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CNIPA: Iwncomm Fends Off Sony's Attack on WAPI Patent

The story started from an invalidation plea launched by Sony Mobile Communications (China), against Xi'an, Shaanxi- based China Iwncomm over No.02139508.X invention patent titled a method for the access of the mobile terminal to the WLAN and for the data communication via the wireless link securely, an essential technology solving the security defect in prior art such as WIFI in the WLAN Authentication and Privacy Infrastructure (WAPI) field. This patent was listed into the Chinese compulsory national standards as GB15629.11 and currently valid in China, the US, Europe, Japan and South Korea.

On July 23, 2015, Sony lodged this invalidation request to the Patent Reexamination Board (PAB), which would uphold the patent in its No.28356 decision, agreeing with none of the Sony arguments. On March 22, 2017, Beijing IP court made a ruling, ordering Sony to indemnify over 9.1 million yuan to Iwncomm in economic loss and other reasonable expenditures. In the ensuing patent infringement lawsuit between Iwncomm and Sony, the Court of second instance upheld the first- instance judgment.

Impact of the Case

This case sparked resounding attention in the communications and legal sectors, causing significant impact for its tremendous economic implications.

Iwncomm's WAPI standard is wireless transport protocol generated by a Chinese company. The judgment will encourage Chinese companies to invest more in R&D in the communications field and devise apposite patent strategy.

Looking back to the trial process of patent invalidation, PAB reviewed the patent by law and made the fair final decision based on objective, just, accurate and timely desire. This case almost included all legal issues in patent invalidation. The decision made detailed analysis and comments for reasons and hot issues of invalidation requests, interpreting the legal connotation and execution standard of the patent laws and regulations in the reexamination of invalidation request, and casting a deep shadow for patent law promotion in the near future.


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