Nokia Slaps RIM With U.S. Lawsuit3:45 PM EST Wed. Nov. 28, 2012
Nokia has filed a lawsuit against Research In Motion, accusing the BlackBerry maker of breaching a contract related to the use of its wireless local access network (WLAN) technologies.
Nokia, which filed the suit in the U.S., U.K. and Canada, said in a statement that it signed a cross-licensing agreement with RIM in 2003, allowing RIM to use Nokia's standard-essential cellular patents in its BlackBerry handsets. In 2011, however, RIM sought arbitration with the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce, arguing that the licensing agreement should expand to include Nokia's WLAN patents, as well.
But, RIM was denied arbitration this month by a Swedish tribunal, and Nokia is arguing that its WLAN technologies are still being used in RIM's BlackBerrys.
[Related: An Inside Look At Where RIM Went So Wrong]
"In 2011, RIM sought arbitration, arguing that the license extended beyond cellular essentials. In November 2012, the arbitration tribunal ruled against RIM," Nokia said in a statement. "It found that RIM was in breach of contract and is not entitled to manufacture or sell WLAN products without first agreeing royalties with Nokia."
RIM denied to comment, citing company policy of not commenting on pending legal litigation.
Nokia's claims fall at a critical time for RIM, which has struggled to compete against smartphone giants Apple and Google over the past few years.
According to IDC analyst Kevin Restivo, it could be in RIM's best interest to just give in to Nokia's requests and sign a new licensing deal for the WLAN patents.
"RIM could, for example, try to develop some sort of workaround to avoid the need for a deal with Nokia which theoretically gets it out of the company's cross hairs... This option isn't likely given the complexity and time taken to develop wireless technology communication patents and equipment," Restivo told The Globe and Mail. "It's far more efficient to pay the patent holder, in this case Nokia... There's no sign an injunction of any sort is imminent so RIM could still pursue other legal avenues as it sees fit."
Nokia's suit also falls at an inopportune time for RIM, being just two months before its launch of BlackBerry 10, Restivo noted. BlackBerry 10, RIM's next-generation mobile operating system, will give way to a new generation of BlackBerry smartphones and is largely considered a make-or-break release for the company.
PUBLISHED NOV. 28, 2012