Nokia Politely Tells Google, Asus: Time to Pay Up for Patents

By Michelle Maisto  |  Posted 2012-07-03 Print this article Print

The Google Nexus 7, Nokia hinted in a statement, infringes on Nokia patents. While more than 40 companies have licensed patents from the phone maker, neither Google nor Asus are among them.

Nokia, losing sales to Android-running smartphones and the Apple iPhone, has said it plans to be smarter about taking advantage of its considerable patent portfolio. Most recently, it noted that Google and Asus, with Google's new Nexus 7 tablet, appear to be taking a free ride on its patent coattails.

Hardly making a move to sue, Nokia released a statement saying the pair should get in touch.

"Nokia has more than 40 licensees, mainly for its standard essential portfolio, including most of the mobile device manufacturers," says the statement. "Neither Google nor Asus is licensed under our patent portfolio. Companies who are not yet licensed under our standard essential patents should simply approach us and sign up for a license."

The Inquirer first reported the statement, but it's unclear what prompted it€”to whom or where Nokia released it. A Nokia spokesperson was unable to offer more details. Asus spokespeople have also declined to comment.

Google introduced the Nexus 7 at its I/O developer event June 27, with the CEO of Asus in the front row. The 7-inch tablet is the first to run "Jelly Bean," version 4.1 of Google's Android OS. It will run a Tegra 3 Nvidia chipset, deliver 16-core processing capabilities and feature a battery that will last for up to nine hours of even video playing.

Arguably best of all, pricing will start at $199, and for a limited time, Google will throw in a $25 credit toward its Google Play store. Google is accepting preorders from the Play store, and says it will ship the tablet in two to three weeks.

Tom's Guide reports that patents in question involved the IEEE 802.11 WiFi standard, and that Microsoft is another company that may soon call a foul.

"There's speculation that a direct licensing deal isn't established between Google and Microsoft, but there may be one in place with Pegatron, whose shareholders include Asus, Google's partner for the Nexus 7," states the report. "If it covers Google's tablet, then all is well€”if not, Google may need to negotiate sooner with Microsoft rather than later."

Tom's Guide adds that Nokia's current lawsuit against Viewsonic pertains to its IEEE 802.11 patents.

In May, Nokia filed claims in the United States and Germany against HTC, Research In Motion and Viewsonic, saying the companies infringe on a number of Nokia patents.

"Nokia is a leader in many technologies needed for great mobile products," said Louise Pentland, chief legal officer at Nokia. "We have already licensed our standard essential patents to more than 40 companies. Though we'd prefer to avoid litigation, Nokia had to file these actions to end the unauthorized use of our proprietary innovations and technologies, which have not been widely licensed."

Neil Mawston, executive director of Strategy Analytics' Global Wireless Practice, told eWEEK at the time that the move was part of Nokia's becoming less European and more Americanized€”a necessary thing, as the U.S. has long been a problem market for the company.

"Taking a more aggressive stance on asserting its major and minor patent portfolios is one element of that cultural transition,€ said Mawston.

Michelle Maisto has been covering the enterprise mobility space for a decade, beginning with Knowledge Management, Field Force Automation and eCRM, and most recently as the editor-in-chief of Mobile Enterprise magazine. She earned an MFA in nonfiction writing from Columbia University, and in her spare time obsesses about food. Her first book, The Gastronomy of Marriage, if forthcoming from Random House in September 2009.

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