Nokia Seeking To Ban BlackBerry Sales After Tribunal Win

By Khurram Aziz | Nov 28, 2012 12:51 PM EST

Finnish mobile phone company Nokia has won a tribunal ruling with a Swedish arbitrator that could see a ban on the sale of certain BlackBerry smartphones made by Canadian firm Research in Motion (RIM).

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Nokia says that a Swedish tribunal has ruled that RIM was in breach of contract terms and is not entitled to manufacture or sell products using WLAN wireless technology patents without first agreeing royalty rates with Nokia.

The tribunal concluded its nine day hearing regarding the dispute in September and issued its decision in Nokia's favor on November 6. Nokia has now filed lawsuits against RIM in the UK, US and Canada, which could see the ban on the sale of certain BlackBerry devices.

The dispute relates to a cross-license deal for standards-essential cellular patents the two companies agreed in 2003 and later amended in 2008.

Nokia argues that the deal covers essential patents for GSM, WCDMA and CDMA2000 mobile technologies, while RIM says that the license also covers WLAN technology.

The two sides sought international arbitration to resolve the dispute at the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce in Sweden, which acts as a neutral arbiter in commercial disputes. Both sides agreed to be bound by its decision.

Under the terms of the arbitration, the tribunal's ruling is considered confidential and RIM has declined to comment on the decision.

But Nokia, in its petition filed with the US District Court in San Jose, said, "RIM and its US subsidiary RIM Corporation nevertheless continue to violate the award and breach the underlying agreement, through actions including but not limited to the unauthorized manufacture and sale of WLAN products within this district [Northern California] and throughout the United States."

The case covers almost all of RIMs handsets which use the 802.11 WLAN standard.

Both Nokia and RIM used to be leaders in mobile communications technology, with Nokia being the world's biggest mobile phone maker a few years back and the Canadian firm leading the field in smartphones.

However, competition from the likes of Apple, Samsung and other companies has forced both to the periphery in recent years.

But while RIM has continued to struggle, Nokia derives steady income from its portfolio of mobile patents.

Annually Nokia earns $646 million from patent royalties according to Reuters.

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