Apple agrees to pay Nokia patent licensing fees

Agreement between the two settles a long-running dispute over wireless phone patents that was punctuated by a back-and-forth series of lawsuits.

Apple has agreed to license wireless phone patents owned by Nokia that sparked a long-running legal dispute between the two companies.

The deal will settle all patent litigation between Nokia and Apple, and the two will withdraw their respective complaints filed earlier with the U.S. International Trade Commission. In addition, Apple will pay Nokia an undisclosed one-time fee and on-going royalties, Nokia said today.

"We are very pleased to have Apple join the growing number of Nokia licensees," Stephen Elop, president and chief executive officer of Nokia, said in a statement. "This settlement demonstrates Nokia's industry leading patent portfolio and enables us to focus on further licensing opportunities in the mobile communications market."

Apple representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The legal skirmishing began in October 2009 when Nokia sued Apple in over 10 wireless handset patents the Finnish phone maker said it owned. The 10 patents, which Apple reportedly refused to license, relate to making phones able to run on GSM, 3G, and Wi-Fi networks. They include patents on wireless data, speech coding, security, and encryption, according to Nokia.

Apple filed a countersuit in December 2009, charging Nokia with infringing 13 Apple patents related to the iPhone. In its suit, Apple denied Nokia's claims of copyright violations and said that the licenses for which Nokia was seeking payment from Apple were "unfair, unreasonable, and discriminatory" and "non-essential" to the iPhone.

The dispute escalated later that month when Nokia lodged a complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission, accusing Apple of infringing seven Nokia patents "in virtually all of its mobile phones, portable music players, and computers."

A Delaware court put the lawsuits on hold in March 2010, pending the trade commission's decisions on the matter. Apple then took its fight to the U.K. in September 2010, accusing Nokia of infringing on 9 patents it owned.

However, a judge with the U.S. International Trade Commission ruled in March that Apple was not in violation of five of Nokia's patents.

Update, June 14 at 11:41 a.m. PT: Deutsche Bank analyst Kai Korschelt estimates that Nokia will likely be getting something on the order of $608 million from Apple as a result of the settlement.

 

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