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Daimler and Nokia settle long-running patent spat over cellular tech

No more appeals as lawyer gravy train pulls into station

Nokia and Daimler have resolved a long-running patent dispute, with both sides halting any pending litigation across the world and the German carmaker agreeing to pay licence fees.

Neither parties disclosed the terms of the agreement, or whether it pertained to any specific patents.

Last August, a Mannheim court ruled Daimler had violated Nokia's rights on patent EP2981103, which pertains to how end-user devices interact with LTE networks. Daimler swiftly appealed.

Shortly after, in October 2020, Nokia won a victory against Daimler over claims it violated patent EP1388234, which is considered essential to the UMTS (often referred to as 3G) mobile standard. Following its win, Nokia could have obtained a Europe-wide injunction against the vehicles violating its tech. Again, Daimler appealed.

Daimler had previously argued that Nokia was obliged to offer unlimited licenses, as many of its patents were essential for the functioning of many telecommunication standards.

Under law, Nokia is obligated to provide its standard-essential patents under FRAND (fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory) terms.

Additionally, in a separate legal clash, a Dusseldorf court last year raised the possibility that if Nokia opted to seek an injunction against the carmaker, it may constitute an abuse of its market position.

The Court decided to refer this case to the European Commission, in part due to its complexity and the potential ramifications on tech supply chains.

Nokia earned €1.16bn on its licensing portfolio [PDF] during the 2020 financial year. Daimler owns Mercedes-Benz and Smart.

Both parties previously enjoyed a somewhat cosy trading relationship, with Nokia unloading its HERE maps business in 2015 to a consortium that included Daimler. The deal gave Daimler a native mapping solution, while putting €2.8bn into Nokia's coffers. ®

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