Etisalat ordered to pay Dh30m over patent

Court orders telco to pay Abu Dhabi resident Dh30 million and to stop its mobile TV services.

The Abu Dhabi First Instance Court has ordered Emirates Telecommunications (etisalat) to pay an Abu Dhabi resident Dh30 million and to stop its mobile TV services.

Mosa Isa Mosa Al Amiri, a national, after failing to reach an amicable solution, sued etisalat, which, he claimed, has used his invention – without his knowledge and approval, which forms an intellectual property rights violation – for launching mobile TV services that allows customers to watch satellite TV programmes on their cell phones against a monthly fee.

Al Amiri asked for Dh20m in compensation and his defence increased the amount to Dh100m for moral and financial harms that etisalat caused him.

Hearing the case, the court found out that on November 5, 2003, the plaintiff obtained an approval for registering his invention of a system that transmits high-quality video using the internet. Subsequently, after nearly a year, he got an international patent (No. BCT/1B2004/003630). Then on March 6, 2006, he applied to the local authorities for registration of his invention.

Al Amiri supplied the court with copies of the warnings he sent to etisalat to stop exploiting his invention. The telecom firm had given no satisfactory response, the complainant said.

Etisalat's defence denied the accusation and told the court that it has bought the mobile TV system from a Chinese company Huawei.

On May 5, 2009, the court assigned an expert to investigate the claim. The expert's report denied any similarities between the invention and the system applied by etisalat and assured that the later purchased it from a third party.

The plaintiff then asked the court to assign experts with technical knowledge for a more accurate report that would not rely on documents presented by etisalat. The court accordingly assigned a committee of three experts.

This panel found similarities between Al Amiri's system and etisalat's system, but added that the match did not exceed 20 per cent. The committee also said the plaintiff failed to prove the patent violation.

Al Amiri again appealed for assigning patent experts and a three-member panel was set up. This committee said etisalat's system depends on the same idea of the patented invention. Its report also confirmed etisalat's violation of the rights of the plaintiff.

Based on the report and on Law No17 of 2002, pertaining to industrial regulation and protection of patents, the court gave its verdict against etisalat.


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