Nokia, RIM Settle Patent Suits

By Khurram Aziz email: k.aziz@mobilenapps.com | Dec 22, 2012 09:51 PM EST

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Nokia has secured a licence agreement from Canadian smartphone maker RIM, which ends a long running patent dispute between the two companies.Under terms of the deal, RIM will make a one-off payment to the Finnish company to license Wi-Fi related technology as well as pay ongoing royalties; however, further terms of the deal have not been disclosed.

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The BlackBerry maker had initially argued that its use of the Wi-Fi patents were covered by a 2003 agreement it had with Nokia. However, Nokia, which has been struggling in the face of competition from Apple and smartphones using Google's Android operating system, disagreed and filed suits in courts in the U.S., UK. and Canada.

RIM has also struggled to reassert its once unassailable lead in the field of smartphones, but unlike Nokia, it does not have a vast portfolio of patents in order to shore up revenue through licensing. Per a Financial Times report, Nokia has spent about €45bn in the past 20 years developing one of the industry's biggest and broadest patent portfolios, covering 10,000 patent families. 

Patents have played a crucial role in the war for dominance of the smartphone market, with a vast swath of infringement lawsuits fired-off between the likes of Apple, HTC, Samsung, Motorola, and others. More recently, companies have begun to settle these suits with licensing agreements, such as HTC which has reached a 10-year deal to license Apple patents for an undisclosed sum. Other suits, most notably cases between Apple and Samsung, are ongoing.

The settlement between Nokia and RIM ends all litigation between the companies.

"We are very pleased to have resolved our patent licensing issues with RIM and reached this new agreement, while maintaining Nokia's ability to protect our unique product differentiation," Nokia chief intellectual property officer Paul Melin said in a statement seen by Forbes. "This agreement demonstrates Nokia's industry leading patent portfolio and enables us to focus on further licensing opportunities in the mobile communications market."

Both companies have had a rough 2012 and are gearing up to revive their fortunes next year. Nokia has thrown its lot in with Microsoft and is pinning its hopes on new Windows Phone 8 devices such as its recently released Lumia 920 and Lumia 820 handsets.

RIM, meanwhile, is getting ready to launch its revamped BlackBerry 10 operating system which will feature on a new line of phones.

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