Nokia wins Wi-fi patent dispute with Research in Motion

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According to Reuters, Nokia has won a patent dispute with Blackberry-maker RIM over the extension of existing agreements to cover wi-fi technologies. At stake are license fees per handset or a sales ban for RIM's products. Although the verdict is from a Swedish court, US and international courts are apparently likely to 'to enforce the judgment'. Quotes below.

From the Reuters piece:

The Swedish arbitrator ruled RIM was not entitled to make or sell mobile devices which can hook up to WiFi networks - using technology known in the trade as WLAN or wireless local access network systems - without first agreeing royalties with Nokia.

"RIM is liable to pay royalties and damages to Nokia for its ... sales of any subscriber terminals (handsets or tablets) ... compatible with the WLAN standard," the arbitrator said in the ruling, issued on November 6 but not publicized until Wednesday. "RIM has not contested that it manufactures and sells products using WLAN in accordance with Nokia's WLAN patents," it added.

The decision is a boost for Nokia which is trying to increase its royalty income as its phone business slides, and the group said it had filed cases in the United States, Britain and Canada to enforce the arbitrator's ruling.

"This could have a significant financial impact to RIM, as all BlackBerry devices support WLAN," IDC analyst Francisco Jeronimo said.

...analysts said RIM would likely seek a royalty agreement with Nokia to avert any risk of sale bans.

"The arbitration decision is not appealable and the U.S. Court can be expected to enforce the judgment by issuing an injunction against RIM, which would effectively put RIM out of business," said Alexander Poltorak, chief executive of patent consultancy General Patent Corp.

"RIM has only one choice now - to license Nokia's patents," Poltorak said. "It should be a quick process. No substantive issue will be re-litigated. The U.S. court merely needs to enforce the verdict of the Swedish arbitration tribunal."

...Nokia, along with Ericsson and Qualcomm Inc, is among the leading patent holders in the wireless industry. Patent royalties generate annual revenue of about 500 million euros ($646 million) for Nokia.

Although most of us are pretty sick of hearing about industry patent squabbles by now, actual verdicts are still worth reporting, since they have a potentially significant effect on the respective company bottom lines.

Source / Credit: Reuters