Nokia and Apple have reached an agreement to end their long-running patent disputes, with Apple agreeing to pay Nokia a one-time fee plus royalties.
Nokia (NYSE:NOK) and Apple
(NASDAQ:AAPL) have settled their long-running patent dispute. On top of
agreeing to settle all litigation, both companies will withdraw complaints
previously filed with the U.S. International Trade Commission.
Apple will pay Nokia a
one-time fee, in addition to royalties. The actual amounts were not disclosed
by Nokia in its June 14 press release, although the one-time payment will have
a "positive financial impact" on the Finnish company's finances for the second
quarter of 2011.
"We are very pleased to have
Apple join the growing number of Nokia licensees," Stephen Elop, president and
CEO of Nokia, wrote in a June 14 statement. "This settlement demonstrates
Nokia's industry-leading patent portfolio and enables us to focus on further
licensing opportunities in the mobile-communications market."
Nokia claims to have
invested some $62 billion in research in development over the past decade,
resulting in a massive patent portfolio.
Before their blanket
settlement, Nokia and Apple had engaged in a long-winded and somewhat brutal
legal battle. In March, Nokia filed a complaint against Apple with the U.S.
International Trade Commission, accusing its rival of infringing on its mobile
"Our latest ITC filing means
we now have 46 Nokia patents in suits against Apple, many filed more than 10
years before Apple made its first iPhone," Paul Melin, Nokia's vice president
of intellectual property, wrote in a statement accompanying that complaint.
"Nokia is a leading innovator in technologies needed to build great mobile
products, and Apple must stop building its products using Nokia's proprietary
Nokia's complaint centered
on seven patents related to multitasking, data synchronization, positioning,
use of Bluetooth and calling quality.
Nokia first began seeking
patent royalties from Apple in May 2009. When Apple refused, the legal fun
began in earnest. In a Delaware lawsuit filed in October 2009, Nokia claimed
Apple infringed on 10 patents related to technology making devices compatible
with wireless standards-to which Apple responded in December, with a
countersuit claiming Nokia had violated 13 patents held by Cupertino.
"Other companies must
compete with us by inventing their own technologies, not just by stealing
ours," Bruce Sewell, Apple's general counsel and senior vice president, wrote
in a statement accompanying that lawsuit.
Those legal battles,
however, are just a small part of the larger conflict between the two companies
for control of the smartphone market. Although Nokia continues to hold the
lion's share of the global phone market, it finds itself increasingly besieged
by Apple's iPhone and Google Android. Moreover, Nokia's plans to abandon its
homegrown Symbian platform in favor of Microsoft's Windows Phone has led to a
precipitous drop in sales of Symbian devices, devastating the company's stock
and sparking negative comments by analysts. Nokia's Windows Phone devices
aren't expected to hit the market before the end of 2011.
Nicholas Kolakowski is a staff editor at eWEEK, covering Microsoft and other companies in the enterprise space, as well as evolving technology such as tablet PCs. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, Playboy, WebMD, AARP the Magazine, AutoWeek, Washington City Paper, Trader Monthly, and Private Air. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.