Nokia has won a Tribunal ruling against RIM over use of standard WLAN patents. A Swedish arbitrator had ruled that “RIM was in breach of contract and is not entitled to manufacture or sell WLAN products without first agreeing royalties with Nokia.”
This could have a significant financial impact to RIM, as all BlackBerry devices support WLAN. Nokia has now filed actions in the US, UK and Canada which can lead to ban on the sales or royalty payment as happened in case of Nokia VS Apple.
A Nokia spokesperson told the Guardian: “Nokia and RIM agreed a cross-licence for standards-essential cellular patents in 2003, which was amended in 2008. In 2011, RIM sought arbitration, arguing that the licence extended beyond cellular essentials. In November 2012, the arbitration tribunal ruled against RIM. It found that RIM was in breach of contract and is not entitled to manufacture or sell WLAN products without first agreeing royalties with Nokia. In order to enforce the Tribunal’s ruling, we have now filed actions in the US, UK and Canada with the aim of ending RIM’s breach of contract.”
Guardian also agrees that Nokia may not seek to ban Blackberry sales, but rather prefer to have royalties in place from RIM.
But Nokia is highly unlikely to take that path: it has never used the threat of sales injunctions against companies when “standards-essential” patents are involved. That applied even during a long-running Nokia dispute with Apple, which was finally settled in June 2011 when Apple made a one-off payment and agreed per-handset royalties on the iPhone.
Looks like Nokia may have one more stream of payments opening up soon. It also proves the power of “Patent portfolio” Nokia holds. It can shake patent trolls like Apple and RIM, so HTC may certainly be next in line for paying royalties to Nokia.