Apple and Nokia announced that they were settling all pending litigation with each other. In a statement available on Apple’s website, Nokia stated, “This is a meaningful agreement between Nokia and Apple,” Maria Varsellona, Chief Legal Officer, Nokia. It moved their relationship with Apple from being adversaries in court to business partners working for the benefit of our customers.”
Apple filed the first complaint against several entities, all of whom had purchased SEPs from Nokia or were connected to Nokia in some manner, in December 2016. These were: Acacia Research, Cellular Communications Equipment, Saint Lawrence Communications, Conversant Intellectual Property Management, and CORE Wireless Licensing. Before Apple filed suit in December, there were several actions brought in by Nokia partners against Apple in the United States and elsewhere in Europe. In some of these litigations, damages were awarded against Apple. Apple alleged that the action was brought in to “remedy a continuing anticompetitive scheme”, where Acacia, Conversant, etc. colluded with Nokia Corporation, to obtain thousands of patents as part of a plan to extract and extort exorbitant revenues unfairly and in an anti-competitive manner from Apple, and ultimately from the consumers of those products.
Division of Patent Portfolio
Apple further stated that it had paid out excessive royalty payments and the costs and burdens of defending against the barrage of patent litigation unleashed by Acacia and Conversant, along with other Patent Assertion Entities. What Nokia had done was to divide its patent portfolio and sold the parts to Acacia, Conversant, Core, Vringo, Sisvel, etc. Each of these entities charged their SEP portfolio separately and Nokia got an interest (retained rights) from these entities despite having sold the portfolio.
1. Eric Stasik, Royalty Rates And Licensing Strategies For Essential Patents On LTE (4G) Telecommunication Standards, Les Nouvelles,.
2. Press Release, Vringo, Vringo to Acquire Over 500 Patents and Applications from Nokia.
3. Sisvel, Introduction and Royalty Rate.
4. Conversant, Core Wireless Licensing,
What Ericsson did?
Ericsson had sold part of its portfolio to Unwired Planet and in my post on Huawei / Unwired Planet, I had remarked that a blind eye was turned to patent privateering. There is no fact checking to ensure that the amount Unwired Planet demanded was in line what was reduced by Ericsson LM. Post Apple’s filing, Nokia quickly filed law suits in Germany and in the United States against Apple for infringement of its patents. Only preliminary filings were done by both sides, and they settled on May 23, 2017, i.e. less than six months.