Apple and Nokia end patent dispute


Nokia has announced a settlement with rival Apple over their long-running patent dispute, as both remove respective complaints to the US International Trade Commission.

Apple will hand Nokia a one-off payment as part of the resolution as well as ongoing royalties. Details of how much Nokia would receive went undisclosed.

"We are very pleased to have Apple join the growing number of Nokia licensees," said Stephen Elop, president and chief executive (CEO) of Nokia.

"This settlement demonstrates Nokia's industry leading patent portfolio and enables us to focus on further licensing opportunities in the mobile communications market."

The legal tussle between the two smartphone giants stems back to October 2009. The patent war escalated towards the end of 2010 when Nokia filed 13 new patents against Apple, four of them in the UK.

Patent expert Florian Mueller said the dispute could be good news for both Apple and Nokia.

"This frees up resources for both Apple and Nokia. Apple is embroiled in litigation with the three leading Android device makers (Motorola, HTC and Samsung)," Mueller said.

"Nokia doesn't have any litigation worries, but part of its new strategy is to ratchet up monetisation of its patent portfolio. Having proven its ability to defeat Apple - after the most bitterly contested patent dispute that this industry has seen to date - is a clear proof of concept."

Mueller claimed other companies who come up against Nokia in patent disputes "will have to think very hard whether to pay or pick a fight."

He indicated Google's Android operating system could be in the Nokia legal team's crosshairs soon.

As for the Apple case, Mueller believes Nokia could stand to gain a significant amount of money good news for a firm, which recently had to cancel its full-year outlook.

"The deal structure is very telling: a combination of a payment for past infringement as well as running royalties is a clear indication that there's serious money in this for Nokia," Mueller added.

"But this is a sweet defeat for Apple because its competitors will also have to pay Nokia, and most if not all of them will likely have to pay more on a per-unit basis because they don't bring as much intellectual property to the table as Apple definitely did."

Nokia has been in need of positive news. This week, analysts predicted the company would lose its smartphone market share leadership to Samsung.

Google is embroiled in numerous patent disputes over Android and may be anxious at the Nokia/Apple outcome.

It has to worry about a potentially harmful case with Oracle first, which could see an outcome before the end of the year.

Tom Brewster

Tom Brewster is currently an associate editor at Forbes and an award-winning journalist who covers cyber security, surveillance, and privacy. Starting his career at ITPro as a staff writer and working up to a senior staff writer role, Tom has been covering the tech industry for more than ten years and is considered one of the leading journalists in his specialism.

He is a proud alum of the University of Sheffield where he secured an undergraduate degree in English Literature before undertaking a certification from General Assembly in web development.