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Nokia, Apple lawyers make peace over nasty IP wrangle

Unspecified lump sum heading for Finland

Handshake

Nokia and Apple have made peace after a brief but vituperative legal stand-off. The two settled all their outstanding issues over intellectual property rights, with an unspecified lump sum heading from California to Finland, as well as royalties.

Nokia filed a bunch of lawsuits against Apple in the USA and Germany in December after Apple declined to licence the IP described in 32 patents, covering "display, user interface, software, antenna, chipsets and video coding". Apple accused Nokia of "troll"-like behaviour and sued Nokia the same day.

Nokia sold its phones business to Microsoft in 2013 and doesn't make phones any more, but retains a substantial licensing business, Nokia Technologies. This was swelled substantially by the acquisition of French telco Alcatel-Lucent last year, which itself sprang from Bell Labs*.

Apple had already paid Core Wireless Licensing $7.3m earlier in December for infringing two patents. Core is a subsidiary of Conversant, which Apple accused of being a cowardly front for Nokia.

"Unable to compete with innovative companies such as Apple – which had developed a revolutionary hardware and software platform – Nokia quickly transformed itself," Cupertino said at the time. "It changed from a company focused on supplying cell phones and other consumer products to a company bent on exploiting the patents that remain from its years as a successful cell phone supplier."

But they're all friends again today.

"We are pleased with this resolution of our dispute and we look forward to expanding our business relationship with Nokia," said Apple's chief operating officer, Jeff Williams. Apple will resume selling Nokia's Withings brand wearables. The joint statement mentioned "future collaboration in digital health initiatives".

Now Apple can focus its legal team on its wide-ranging battle with Qualcomm. The San Diego chip IP giant has sued significant parts of Apple's chain, including Foxconn, Wistron and Compal.

One analyst estimates that Nokia received 0.2 per cent of device royalties from sales of iBling containing Nokia IP.®

Bootnote

*Given the short life of patents, it's not that those are worth much commercially. In March, Nokia opened up the source code of the original Unix for study and copying.

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