Nokia vs RIM in WLAN standard feud

Here we go again, once more another feud between two big players in the mobile industry though at least for once it’s not between Apple and Samsung! This time Nokia and Research in Motion are going head to head with Nokia petitioning in a bid to prevent RIM from selling devices with wireless LAN support until the companies reach a patent royalties agreement.

Nokia has requested a court in California to impose an arbitration award that could impact the sale of many of RIM’s smartphones and this sort of filing usually occurs when formerly the two parties involved have already seemingly resolved an issue through arbitration but one of the sides has not kept their end of the agreed deal. It’s reported that there was a 9-day neutral arbitration period in Stockholm, Sweden in September, prior to which both parties would have had to assent to being bound by the findings.

Nokia petitions that one of the conclusions was that RIM must first agree with Nokia on the royalty to be paid before being able to sell or even manufacture devices compatible with the WLAN standard. Nokia states in its petition to the US District Court in San Jose, that this agreement has not yet been reached. As the majority of RIM’s smartphones use 802.11 wireless LAN standard this could be a big blow for RIM, already struggling to resurrect the BlackBerry brand and relying on the success of the upcoming new BlackBerry 10 OS and products using it. So far neither party has commented on Nokia’s latest request.

In the petition Nokia attests, “RIM and its U.S. subsidiary RIM Corporation nevertheless continue to violate the award and breach the underlying agreement, through actions including but not limited to the unauthorized manufacture and sale of WLAN products within this district [Northern California] and throughout the United States,” according to IDG News Service. The court is being asked to enforce the arbitration award as although it took place in Sweden the country is a signatory to the New York Convention governing international arbitration of 1958.

The dispute began back in 2003 and an agreement pertaining to wireless devices whereby RIM agreed to licensed patents from Nokia. In a nutshell, RIM says that the patents that Nokia is questioning now were part of the earlier deal but the arbitration found that that was not the case. The appeal said that Nokia would have intended to license out more than essential patents to RIM and could not have known of RIM’s assumption that the patents in question were already covered.

It will certainly be interesting to see how this case pans out as it looks as though if Nokia succeeds in the enforcement of the arbitration award, this could mean big repercussions for RIM at a time when the company least needs it. BlackBerry 10 is due to be launched in a blaze of publicity on January 30, 2013 and no doubt RIM would rather be focusing all of its attention on what is hoped will regenerate the BlackBerry brand.

We’d like to ask readers what they think of this latest round of patent disputes. Are you getting a bit tired of the constant court cases involving the major players in the smartphone world? Maybe you feel otherwise and avidly follow every case? Send us your comments to let us know.

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