Worldwide: 反垄断案例分析:宁波四家稀土企业诉日立金属拒绝许可案

Last Updated: February 23 2017
Article by Dentons  

2016-01-20 反垄断实务评论 作者:大成反垄断团队

1.  案件背景                     

2012年8月17日,日立金属公司向美国国际贸易委员会(ITC)就四项烧结钕铁硼的工艺专利提起"337调查"申请(案件号:337-TA-855),被告包括中国4家钕铁硼企业在内有29家公司。这4家企业为烟台正海磁性材料股份有限公司(正海磁材)、宁波金鸡钕铁硼强磁材料有限公司(宁波金鸡)、安徽大地熊新材料股份有限公司(安徽大地熊)和香港创科实业有限公司。此后,正海磁材、宁波金鸡和安徽大地熊与日立金属公司达成和解,并同时获得了日立金属公司的专利授权。

2012年8月同期,为打破日立金属公司在烧结钕铁硼领域的专利封锁,沈阳中北通磁科技股份有限公司等7家企业于成立了"稀土永磁产业技术创新战略联盟"(以下简称"联盟"),成员包括沈阳中北通磁科技股份有限公司、宁波同创强磁材料有限公司(宁波同创)、宁波永久磁业有限公司(宁波永久)、宁波科田磁业有限公司(宁波科田)、杭州永磁集团有限公司、宁波华辉磁业有限公司(宁波华辉)、广东江门磁源新材料有限公司等7家企业,宗旨就是共同出资、共同研发、共同发展,共同应对知识产权,并对日立金属公司的专利封锁实施反击。

2013年8月,联盟赴美国专利局起诉日立金属公司,诉其烧结钕铁硼核心专利无效。

2014年5月,联盟在美国旧金山与日立金属公司展开了一场围绕稀土永磁专利的谈判。谈判最终无疾而终,7家企业未能如愿获得专利许可。

2014年底,联盟中的4家宁波企业(宁波永久、宁波科田、宁波华辉和宁波同创)以日立金属公司滥用市场支配地位构成垄断为由,向宁波中级人民法院起诉。

2015年8月,美国专利商标局支持联盟7家企业申请,初步裁定日立金属公司的两件核心专利在美国无效。

2.  案件发展

2014年底,4家宁波企业向宁波市中级人民法院提起对日立金属公司的反垄断诉讼。

2014年12月11日,宁波市中级人民法院受理此案。

2015年3月,日立金属公司向法院提出管辖权异议,被驳回。

2015年9月21日,双方进行证据交换。

2015年12月18日,开庭审理,当庭未作审判。

3. 诉讼请求

宁波4家企业要求日立金属公司停止滥用市场支配地位的拒绝交易和搭售行为,赔偿因为日立金属公司的侵权行为,给4家企业分别造成550万元至700万元不等的损失,索赔金额共计2400万元。

4.  案件争议

1)  相关市场界定

原告提出相关市场为"烧结钕铁硼磁体必要专利",被告则主张自身从未公开表示其专利是必要的,其专利是非必要的,并非不可绕过的;之前的宣传仅为了商业目的,并非完整事实。

原告提交的证据中认为,日立金属公司的发言人南章雄曾公开表示"要绕开日立金属的专利去生产烧结钕铁硼磁铁在商业上是不可行的",日立金属公司在该问题的表态前后矛盾。

被告对此的回应是"企业对于产品的宣传行为有一定夸大是正常的,不能理解为日立金属公司自认其专利是必要的"。

2)  市场支配地位认定

原告认为被告拥有大量与烧结钕铁硼相关的专利,在烧结钕铁硼磁体必要专利市场上具有支配地位。

被告则认为其专利也不构成"标准必要专利",在相关市场不具有支配地位。

3)  是否滥用市场支配地位

原告主张被告在烧结钕铁硼生产领域拥有无法替代和回避的必需的"专利包",被告滥用了其在烧结钕铁硼产品专利许可市场的支配地位,通过拒绝许可其专利的方式,使得大部分中国烧结钕铁硼生产商无法进入美国、欧盟及日本等海外市场,同时在中国市场也面临专利诉讼的威胁。同时,被告还采取了专利搭售等滥用行为,使其专利许可期限不断延长。

被告认为自己作为专利权人,有权选择被许可方,并不存在滥用市场支配地位的搭售和拒绝交易行为;如果原告认为日立金属公司成立垄断,应该就日立金属公司在相关市场具有支配地位,并且滥用了支配地位进行举证。

5.  案件简析

本案为专利拒绝许可的反垄断案件,吸引了国内外多方关注。由于案件尚未完全公开,根据现有资料,仅作一些初步分析。

首先,对于知识产权滥用的反垄断规制,从发改委2015年12月31日发布的《国务院反垄断委员会关于滥用知识产权的反垄断指南(征求意见稿)》(《指南草案》)中可以感受到,《指南草案》的态度是比较审慎的。其在执法原则中提到两个"充分",一是"对可能排除、限制竞争的知识产权行使行为进行分析,根据个案需要,充分考虑知识产权行使行为对竞争和创新的积极影响",二是"坚持公正透明,充分考虑经营者提出的行使知识产权正当与否的事实、证据和理由"。因此,在分析是否存在知识产权滥用的同时,还要尊重知识产权本身的排他专有属性。

其次,对于知识产权拒绝许可这一问题,《指南草案》列出了关于拒绝许可是否正当的六项考虑因素:"(1)相关知识产权所负担的许可承诺;(2)相关知识产权是否为进入相关市场所必需,以及是否存在可合理获得的替代知识产权;(3)许可相关知识产权对经营者进行创新的影响及程度;(4)被拒绝方是否缺乏支付合理许可费的意愿和能力;(5)被拒绝方是否缺乏必要的质量、技术保障,以确保知识产权的正当使用或者产品的安全和性能;(6)被拒绝方使用知识产权是否会对节约能源、保护环境等社会公共利益产生不利影响"。尽管有人对于将必要设施理论用于知识产权许可上存在不同看法,但是现实中存在知识产权拒绝许可排除、限制竞争的客观情况,因此反垄断法对知识产权和其他财产权在拒绝许可方面同样适用。然而,考虑到知识产权本身的特点,《指南草案》对拒绝许可同样采取了审慎的态度,罗列出六项因素充分考虑拒绝许可是否正当。

再次,就本案而言,无论日立金属公司的专利是否属于"标准必要专利",只要其为"必要"专利,就有可能被认定为具有市场支配地位,适用必要设施理论。本案的难点最后可能在于日立金属公司的拒绝许可行为是否正当。一方面专利权人有权拒绝许可,特别是如果其先前没有对外做出类似FRAND的承诺,而且专利权人也没有义务对竞争对手给予许可;另一方面,拒绝许可却有可能严重损害市场竞争。如何从中分辨行为的正当与否、进行价值平衡,所要考虑的因素可能不止以上六项,可能还需要考虑相关专利本身的价值、是否本身存在专利法项下的专利滥用、专利行使方式和过程等等。对于同一专利行使行为可能存在专利法和反垄断法适用的竞合,但是选择通过反垄断法来解决问题,可能更有效果和效应。

最后,知识产权拒绝许可问题实属疑难,本案如果最终判决,无论胜败如何,对败诉一方以及其背后的法律价值都会有所损伤。因此,不排除双方和解的可能性,从而再次使反垄断法成为知识产权拒绝许可的"达摩克利斯之剑"。

参考资料:

[1]http://www.cb.com.cn/special/show/522.html

[2]http://mt.sohu.com/20150922/n421803155.shtml

[3]http://money.163.com/15/1230/05/BC2G3ME600253B0H.html

[4]http://www.shangbiaomyd.com/news/4987.html

[5]http://daily.cnnb.com.cn/nbrb/html/2015-12/19/content_920736.htm?div=-1#rd&sukey=fc78a68049a14bb2ed3fdd1ed1dc42e76dbc6660b8ab97a89213606d5b7a75bab21744dc40f565f8c54c719fae6c9b7f

[6]http://jjs.ndrc.gov.cn/fjgld/201512/t20151231_770233.html

Dentons is the world's first polycentric global law firm. A top 20 firm on the Acritas 2015 Global Elite Brand Index, the Firm is committed to challenging the status quo in delivering consistent and uncompromising quality and value in new and inventive ways. Driven to provide clients a competitive edge, and connected to the communities where its clients want to do business, Dentons knows that understanding local cultures is crucial to successfully completing a deal, resolving a dispute or solving a business challenge. Now the world's largest law firm, Dentons' global team builds agile, tailored solutions to meet the local, national and global needs of private and public clients of any size in more than 125 locations serving 50-plus countries. www.dentons.com.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Authors
 
In association with
Related Topics
 
Related Articles
 
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
Mondaq on Twitter
 
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.

Disclaimer

The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.

General

Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions