Tesla asks UK court to let 5G patents lawsuit continue to trial

FILE PHOTO: Tesla's primary vehicle factory reopens in Fremont

By Sam Tobin

LONDON (Reuters) - Tesla on Thursday asked a London court to allow its lawsuit against U.S. technology firm InterDigital and a patent licensing platform to continue, as the automaker seeks a patent licence ahead of its launch of 5G vehicles in Britain.

Elon Musk's company is suing InterDigital and Avanci – which licenses patents from multiple owners, largely for automotive uses – at London's High Court.

Tesla wants the court to determine the fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms of a licence for Tesla to use patents owned by patent holders, including InterDigital and which are licensed by Avanci, in its planned 5G vehicles.

InterDigital and Avanci, however, both say the case against them should be thrown out, partly because any litigation should take place in the United States rather than in London.

Thomas Raphael, a lawyer representing InterDigital, told the High Court that what Tesla really wants from the case is a licence on FRAND terms to use the patents.

"That is a licence InterDigital cannot grant and cannot make Avanci grant," he said. Avanci, meanwhile, argues Tesla has no contractual rights against it.

But Tesla, whose lawyers said in court filings that the company "plans imminently to launch 5G vehicles in the UK", argues that Avanci is demanding too much for a license and refusing to negotiate.

"Avanci makes a basic demand of $32 per 5G-connected vehicle, which is more than double the rate being paid by Tesla and most other vehicle manufacturers for a 4G vehicle," Tesla's lawyer James Segan said in written arguments.

He added that Tesla is entitled to have the High Court determine what FRAND terms would be for a licence to use InterDigital's patents around the world.

London's High Court has previously been willing to grant global FRAND licences, bolstered by a landmark Supreme Court ruling in 2021.

(Reporting by Sam Tobin; Editing by Sharon Singleton)