updated 02:00 am EDT, Tue June 14, 2011
Abrupt end to ITC, legal patent disputes
Apple and Nokia have ended their almost two-year-long legal battle over patents with a Nokia announcement that it has signed a patent license agreement with Apple, bringing an end to all patent litigation between the two companies, including the withdrawal of all complaints pending before the US International Trade Commission (ITC). Apple will give Nokia a one-time payment, along with ongoing royalties for the term of the agreement, though specifics of the contract remain confidential.
The fight between the two companies began in October 2009 when Nokia sued Apple over 3G patents. Apple counter-sued, claiming Nokia was copying the iPhone and attempting to steal original Apple technology. Nokia then added more patent claims in a separate lawsuit filed in Germany, bringing the total number of patent disputes between the two companies to 37, along with both companies taking their cases to the ITC.
In March, Apple won a major blow against Nokia's complaints in a preliminary ITC ruling that it had not violated five of Nokia's claimed patents (though the court later agreed to review the ruling in two of the five patents). Apple accused the company of using the UTMS 3G claims as a way to generate profits, being unable to compete in the changing cell phone landscape. Nokia has steadily been losing share since the iPhone debuted, prompting the company to abandon Symbian and sign an agreement with Microsoft to bring Windows Phone 7 on board instead, which so far has done nothing to buoy the company.
Despite the legal wrangles, Nokia chief Stephen Elop had recently given Apple credit for laying the foundation that made the modern, touch-oriented Android (and by extension, other smartphone OSes) possible. As a result of today's agreement, Nokia will revise its outlook for the second quarter of 2011, bringing the company back up to break-even non-IFRS operating margin for its Devices and Services division.