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Nokia, Apple sign patent license agreement

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.

by MacNN Staff



  1. erics

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Buy em!!

    Now just buy em' already :)

  1. viktorob

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Nokian and Apple vs Android?

    No phone was like the iPhone before, so obviously Nokia did infringed some of the Apple patents (as apple infringed some of Nokia). I think the strategy here is for apple to accept those patents are legally Nokia's IP to set a precedent and let Nokia sue Android makers.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Re: Nokian and Apple vs Android?

    I think the strategy here is for apple to accept those patents are legally Nokia's IP to set a precedent and let Nokia sue Android makers.

    Settling does not set a precedent. It just means they don't want to spend the money to fight (or that they did infringe).

  1. Zanziboy

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Apple/Nokia Settlement Driven by Supreme Court

    Unlike criminal law, where the burden of proof is always on the plaintiff (the state) and the standard for proof is "beyond a reasonable doubt", civil cases are much trickier.

    In a landmark decision on June 2, 2011, the US Supreme Court ruled (Microsoft vs. i4i Limited Partnership) that in patent cases, "clear and convincing evidence" must is required to overcome the presumption of validity to issued patents.

    "Clear and convincing" is the highest legal standard of proof for a non-criminal offence and is much stronger than the historical "preponderance of evidence" standard used in most civil cases not related to fraud. Microsoft, which lost the decision, would have won based on the "preponderance of evidence" standard as most observers agreed the Patent Office (USPTO) should never have granted the i4i patents as there was significant prior art. However, the court's hands were tied as lowering the standard for a patent challenge would have eroded the value of all patents ("presumption of patent validity").

    Based on this new standard for invalidating patents in the US, both sides had no choice but to settle.

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