Apple and Nokia sign patent licensing agreement; All pending litigation between the two companies has ended

After nearly two years of back and forth legal proceedings that saw both Apple and Nokia file broad claims of patent infringement against the other, the two tech giants ultimately decided to save a boatload of money in the longrun and enter into a patent licensing agreement.

Well, the thorny minefield of tech litigation just got a little bit less complicated.

After nearly two years of back and forth legal proceedings that saw both Apple and Nokia file broad claims of patent infringement against the other, the two tech giants ultimately decided to save a boatload of money in the longrun and enter into a patent licensing agreement.

In a press release on the matter, Nokia announced that the two companies have agreed to end all pending litigation, including pending ITC actions and suits filed both in the US and abroad. Under terms of the new patent licensing agreement, Apple will make a one-time lump sum payment to Nokia in addition to paying an on-going licensing fee for using Nokia's patented technologies. Naturally, specific payment figures and the duration of the agreement were kept confidential. 

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

With every tech company seemingly involved in all sorts of litigation these days, it's refreshing to see two companies finally come to grips and hammer out an agreement. As for terms of the deal, only Nokia and Apple can attest to that, but it's previously been reported that Nokia was demanding a 1-2% royalty on each iPhone sold, which comes out to about $6-$12 per device. Now it doesn't seem likely that Apple would ever agree to that high of a royalty, which might explain why a one-time lump sum payment was part of the settlement.

Ultimately, it can only benefit consumers to have companies focus more on developing new products than on litigation. And with Apple and Nokia's legal showdown set to get underway in 2012, we're glad to see things come to an end as a protracted legal battle isn't good for anybody except the lawyers.

It is worth pointing out that Apple for the most part was not of the position that it owed Nokia no royalties. Rather, the crux of the dispute was how much those royalties should be.

Looking back, here's a quick rundown of Nokia and Apple's contentious legal history.

Things initially kicked off in October of 2009 when Nokia sued Apple claiming that a number of Apple's products, including the iPhone, infringed on 10 Nokia patents relating to wireless LAN standards and GSM and UMTS networks. Nokia's press release at the time stated in part.

Apple vowed to vigorously fight back and soon countersued Nokia for infringing on 13 of Apple's patents. In a press release at the time, Apple snidely remarked that Nokia was unable to keep up with Apple using their own technologies and therefore had to resort to stealing Apple's in order to stay competitive.

Following that, both Apple and Nokia filed complaints before the International Trade Commission. Nokia'scomplaint was particularly noteworthy in that it essentially claimed that all Apple products infringed uponNokia patents.

Again, we can finally put this legal dispute behind us and focus instead on the plethora of other tech-related litigation going on right now. Apple v. Kodak, Microsoft v. Motorola, Apple v. HTC, the Lodsys drama, and Apple v. Samsung are just a few cases that come to mind. Take your pick, folks.

Press Release via Reuters

Join the Network World communities on Facebook and LinkedIn to comment on topics that are top of mind.

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

IT Salary Survey 2021: The results are in