Court Reaffirms Nokia Royalty Payout

Mobile device maker Nokia has been ordered to pay over $232 million in royalties to InterDigital Communications over a technology licensing dispute, one of many recent intellectual property battles in the wireless sector.

A federal judge in New York ruled in favor of InterDigital Communications Corp. in the companys technology licensing claim against mobile device maker Nokia Corp.

In a filing submitted Wednesday, U.S. District Judge William H. Pauley III confirmed an award of between $232 and $252 million granted to InterDigital in June 2005 by the ICC (International Court of Arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce).

The intellectual property spat centered on a licensing agreement established between the companies in 1999, which covered wireless technologies used in Nokias mobile handsets.

InterDigital, which is based in King of Prussia, Pa., said it was forced to bring the action after Nokia declined its demand for additional royalties for technologies used in the Finnish companys second- and second and a half-generation handsets sold between 2002 and 2006, along with other wireless infrastructure equipment.

Nokia already paid royalties of $31.5 million for the patented designs under dispute between 1999 and 2001, InterDigital said.

/zimages/6/28571.gifClick here to read the latest on the BlackBerry patent infringement case.

Nokia representatives didnt immediately return calls seeking comment on the ruling. The company brought the matter before the federal court as part of its appeal of the ICC claim.

Frustrated by the handset makers continued petitioning of the arbitration ruling, InterDigital CEO William J. Merritt said that his company has already taken legal action to accelerate any remaining contract resolution process with Nokia.

"We remain confident that Nokia will pay the amounts due, either of its own accord or by court order," Merritt said in a statement.

While the InterDigital-Nokia spat may be a clash between firms that differ over the interpretation of mutually shared technology designs, the legal claim is part of a growing tide of litigation in the wireless communications arena that has compromised some of the most popular products and services on the market.

In the most high-profile case in the sector, patent defendants NTP Inc. may have seen its chances fade significantly against Blackberry service provider Research In Motion Inc., against whom it won a 2003 injunction that threatened the popular wireless e-mail service.

Earlier this month the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office rejected several of the patents involved in the companies ongoing battle, which likely strengthened RIMs case against shutting down the BlackBerry service.

While this latest rejection is good news for RIM, it is a "non-final" office action, meaning that NTP can appeal it.

In its ruling, the Patent Office indicated that the next ruling would be a final action. RIM officials have remained publicly confident, saying that the matter will be snuffed out by the Patent Office in the next several months.

In June, the two companies announced in a statement that RIM had agreed to pay NTP a settlement of $450 million, but the device maker later said the deal was never finalized and backed away from the offer.

In another patent dispute, wireless e-mail firm Visto Corp. filed a lawsuit against Microsoft Corp. earlier this month accusing the huge software maker of infringing on patents tied to e-mail access on mobile devices.

Visto is seeking a permanent injunction to stop Microsoft from "misappropriating" developed by the companys founder nearly 10 years ago. Some experts have said the suit may hinder Microsofts roll out of its Windows Mobile 5.0 operating system.

Visto subsequently signed a licensing agreement with NTP, which already licenses it patents to RIM rival Good Technology Inc., as well as Nokia.

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