HTC and Nokia ink patent deal: Will explore tech together rather than fight

Chris Davies - Feb 7, 2014
HTC and Nokia ink patent deal: Will explore tech together rather than fight

Nokia and HTC have inked a patent agreement that will see all ongoing litigation between the companies cease, sharing technology in future and cutting off a potentially imminent sales ban on HTC smartphones. The deal sees HTC agreeing to pay for “a long standing” license of Nokia’s patents, but is also said to “involve HTC’s LTE patent portfolio”, while both companies will “explore future technology collaboration opportunities.”

“Nokia has one of the most preeminent patent portfolios in the industry” HTC general counsel Grace Lee conceded, billing the agreement as allowing the struggling smartphone firm “to stay focused on innovation for consumers.”

Unsurprisingly, Nokia is happy with how things worked out too, though it hadn’t been doing badly in the courts either. Earlier this month, a German judge ruled that HTC was infringing on some of Nokia’s patents with its recent handsets, around technologies for peer-to-peer sharing via Bluetooth or NFC, in addition to what happens when a smartphone is connected to a computer via USB.

That ruling could have seen an import ban on HTC devices into Germany enforced in just a matter of days, seemingly spurring on the company’s eagerness to strike up a less sales-damaging deal.

It wasn’t the only success Nokia has had against HTC, however. Back in 2013, the company had courtroom wins in both Europe and the US as it sought to flex the might of its patent portfolio.

That might has already caught the attention of European regulators, with Nokia being warned that, following the Microsoft acquisition, it needs to be careful not to become a patent troll. Should it look to “extract higher returns”, the European Commission’s head of competition Joaquin Almunia said, it could well find itself under antitrust investigation.

Exactly how much money has exchanged hands in order to bring the legal spats to an end is unclear, with HTC and Nokia opting to keep the details of the deal secret.

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