updated 07:59 am EST, Mon December 9, 2013
Threat of antitrust investigation by EC if Nokia overreaches with patents
Nokia has been warned by the European Commission (EC) to avoid becoming a "patent troll," once the company completes the sale of its Devices and Services arm to Microsoft. Joaquin Almunia, head of competition and vice president of the EC, reconfirmed the Commission's approval of the purchase, but advised that there is a danger that Nokia could try to "extract higher returns" from its patent portfolio.
In a speech in Paris, Almunia advised Nokia to not "behave like a patent troll, or to use a more polite phrase, a patent assertion entity," reports the Associated Press. He warned that if Nokia attempts to take "illegal advantage" of its patents, the EC would not hesitate in opening an antitrust case against the company.
Vice-President of the European Commission, Joaquin Almunia
Even though the $7.2 billion acquisition by Microsoft has yet to actually complete, Nokia is already increasing the use of its patent portfolio. Last week, a court in the United Kingdom ruled in favor of Nokia, banning the sale of the HTC One Mini in the country due to its use of infringing chips, with the company also seeking financial compensation alongside the sales injunction. It has also extended a patent deal with Samsung for five more years, with the amount due to be paid by Samsung to be agreed upon in arbitration sometime in 2015.
Despite losing its major hardware arm, Nokia will still have a considerable income. It currently receives approximately 500 million euros ($675 million) per year in patent licensing payments, which will increase by 1.65 billion euros ($2.23 billion) as part of a 10-year licensing deal with Microsoft once the sale completes.