With all the heavyweight action between Samsung and Apple, it can be easy to overlook the other mobile players throwing patent actions at each other. The latest round sees a victory for Nokia as it wins a WLAN renegotiation dispute against the BlackBerry maker.
When Friends Fall Out
Nokia and RIM used to have a nice little cross-license agreement on WLAN patents, that has been running since 2003. However, back in 2011, RIM decided that the deal was not representative, and tried to renegotiate through arbitration. Its attempts have been kicked out of court, and now Nokia is letting lose the lawyers in key territories including the U.S. and Canada to seek redress.
Is successful, that means RIM isn't allowed to sell products with WLAN, which covers pretty much everything it makes. This is the last thing RIM needs after starting to build up some momentum toward the launch of BlackBerry 10. With its market share declining, it will need to sort things out quickly to avoid the potentially massive fines it could face or having its products pulled from the shelves.
Two Sides To Every Story
The value of those patents might well be in dispute, and RIM might find some courts willing to side with it. But Nokia has precedent on its side, and with momentum building to BB10, it doesn't need the distraction and can't really afford to lose. So, expect a rapid settlement to Nokia's sabre-rattling.
Nokia, of course, has its own troubles with diving market share in smartphones and little word on how its key Windows Phone 8 devices are doing. While it is in less peril than RIM, Nokia might be more keen to leverage its patent portfolio and generate as much revenue as it can.
Blackberry 10 devices are due to go onsale next February and the company will need this to be settled by its BlackBerry Jam event in January. In the meantime, Nokia will be looking to push its Lumia range hard over the holiday season. Both will be looking keenly to the next few quarters' sales figures to see if they can make a dent.
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