The ride in Ford (F -2.72%) stock wasn’t very smooth on Friday. The big American carmaker saw its shares decline by nearly 3% on a day when the S&P 500 index essentially traded sideways. A ruling from a court overseas was the key catalyst in that deceleration.
A regional court in Munich, ruling in a patent infringement lawsuit brought by Japan-based patent fund IP Bridge, placed a sales and production ban on Ford cars with internet connections. At this basically covers every current model of the company’s vehicles, it could have a huge impact on its operations in the large European nation.
That said, according to a Reuters article on the matter, the judgment is not legally binding and Ford can appeal. Additionally, a security payment of 227 million euros ($239 million) is required of IP Bridge for the ruling to be “provisionally enforcable.”
IP Bridge brought the suit over patents covering 4G, a well-established wireless communications technology. It is the latest tussle between holders of technology patents who want to be compensated handsomely for such solutions and the carmakers who rely on a raft of technologies for their assisted-driving features.
In an emailed statement quoted by Reuters, Ford said that the “reason of this court case is the licensing of standard-essential patents for LTE networks. Since we did not yet have received [sic] the written opinion of the court, we do not want to comment on this matter at this time.”
IP Bridge has not yet issued a formal statement on the ruling. It’s unclear whether it intends to hand over the security payment.
While all this sounds a bit up in the air, the threat to Ford’s Germany operations is concerning. One way or another, though, the company should find a way to resolve the situation. Investors will be hoping this won’t be too costly or otherwise burdensome.