Reddit gets a call from Nokia about patent infringement ahead of going public

That's a juicy-looking IPO you've got there. Be a shame if someone took a licensing bite

Mere days from going public, Reddit is staring down a challenge from Nokia, which has accused the "front page of the internet" of infringing some of its thousands of patents.

Reddit revealed in an updated SEC filing today that it received a letter from Nokia Technologies on Monday alleging the platform "infringes certain of their patents," the filing states. 

"We will evaluate their claims," Reddit told the SEC, adding that its rising profile as a soon-to-be public company could mean it will receive additional intellectual property claims in the future. It's not the first time it's faced such accusations either, Reddit said.

"Various 'non-practicing entities,' and other intellectual property rights holders have asserted in the past … and may attempt to seek in the future, to monetize the intellectual property rights they own to extract value through licensing arrangements or other settlements," Reddit added.

The particular accusations against Reddit aren't clear, and neither Reddit nor Nokia responded to questions asking for additional information pertaining to the nature of the patents in question.

Once a maker of legendarily indestructible cellular telephones in the pre-iPhone era, before it spun off the handset biz and licensed its brand to HMD, Nokia is still active as a networking business, and continues to invest in R&D and file patents, claiming to have sunk €4 billion into research last year. It also continues to hold a hefty chunk of Standard Essential Patents, including in 5G.

Nokia has been suing companies for violating its menagerie of patents for years, most recently emerging the victor in a long-running case against German automaker Daimler. The spat ended in 2021 with Daimler agreeing to pay licensing fees to Nokia despite the car company arguing Nokia's patents covered essential telecommunications standards and thus had to be more fairly licensed.

Nokia has also engaged in patent disputes with Apple, which in turn sued Nokia and a pair of "patent assertion entities" nearly a decade ago for allegedly colluding to extract exorbitant licensing fees from Apple and other companies. The pair later settled out of court.

Lenovo and much-diminished Android smartphone giant HTC have also been in Nokia's patent-enforcement crosshairs over the past decade, with both cases ending in Nokia's favor with licensing agreements signed.

As for Reddit, the company plans to go public Thursday, March 21, in a deal that's reportedly four to five times oversubscribed. If true, Reddit won't have any problem meeting or beating its $6.5 billion valuation target so it should have plenty of cash available to settle with Nokia - if required - and pay any licensing fees.

What fortuitous timing on Nokia's part. ®

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