Apple and Nokia agree to settle in mother of all patent disputes

23 May 2017

Image: create jobs 51/Shutterstock

Apple and Nokia shake hands as patent dispute is resolved.

Tech behemoths Apple and Nokia have agreed to settle all litigation relating to a dispute over intellectual property.

Under the agreement – the terms of which remain mostly confidential – Apple will make an undisclosed cash payment to Nokia and, in return, Nokia will provide certain network infrastructure products and services to Apple.

‘It moves our relationship with Apple from being adversaries in court to business partners working for the benefit of our customers’

Basil Alwan, president of Nokia’s IP/optical networks business, said that as well as the upfront cash payment from Apple, additional revenues will also be shared through the course of the agreement.

Nokia will record the revenues as patent licensing net sales, and as net sales for other groups.

Patent wars

In December 2016, Nokia filed a number of lawsuits against California tech company Apple, alleging that it had violated 32 patents.

The lawsuits were filed in Düsseldorf, Mannheim and Munich, as well as the US district court for the eastern district of Texas. They covered patents for displays, user interfaces, software, antennas, chip sets and video coding.

The court case had been viewed as the battle royal of patent disputes.

Apple is still involved in pivotal IP court battles on a number of fronts, including a major case with Qualcomm as well as one with UK chipmaker Imagination Technologies.

New relationship

Under a new deal, however, both Nokia and Apple will now collaborate, especially in the area of digital health.

“This is a meaningful agreement between Nokia and Apple,” said Maria Varsellona, chief legal officer at Nokia, responsible for the company’s patent licensing business.

“It moves our relationship with Apple from being adversaries in court to business partners working for the benefit of our customers.”

Apple will resume carrying Nokia digital health products under the Withings brand in Apple retail and online stores.

Regular summits will be held between executives of both companies to ensure the relationship works.

“We are pleased with this resolution of our dispute and we look forward to expanding our business relationship with Nokia,” said Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years