On the eve of an expected ruling from the U.S. International Trade Commission, HTC Corp. has played it safe and settled a patent infringement case brought by Nokia Oyj. The settlement resolves the ITC case and similar disputes in other countries.
According to a Nokia press release issued on Friday, HTC will pay for a license to Nokia patents on wireless technology. Nokia said the companies will also explore “future technology collaboration opportunities,” a statement that Foss Patents blogger Florian Mueller interpreted as a sign that Nokia will help HTC assert its own wireless patents. The full details of the settlement are confidential.
As a pioneer of mobile technology, Nokia has a large portfolio of patents on smartphone technology. Some of Nokia’s patents are essential to industry standards, so the company has pledged to license them on fair, reasonable, and nondiscriminatory (FRAND) terms. The company also holds thousands of nonstandard essential patents (non–SEPs). As Nokia’s phone sales have slipped, it’s focused on using the threat of litigation to make patent licensing deals.
Nokia has long licensed essential patents to HTC, but the companies were unable to reach an agreement on non–SEPs. Nokia’s lawyers at Alston & Bird and Desmarais sued HTC at the ITC in May 2012, alleging infringement of nine non–SEPs. Nokia also brought parallel cases in the U.K. and Germany. By early 2013, Nokia had asserted 50 non–SEPs against HTC around the world. Google Inc., which provides the Android operating system for HTC phones, intervened in the case to aid with HTC’s defense.
In September 2013, Alston & Bird and Desmarais secured a preliminary ITC ruling that HTC infringed two Nokia non–SEPs. At the request of HTC’s lawyers at McDermott Will & Emery, a full panel of ITC judges were reviewing all the patents in question. A decision was scheduled to come down on Monday, Feb. 10. Unlike U.S. district court judges, ITC judges can’t award monetary damages. But HTC did face the possibility of an injunction barring its allegedly infringing devices from entering the United States.
Nokia’s attorneys include John Desmarais and Alan Kellman of Desmarais and Scott Pivnick and Jamie Underwood of Alston & Bird. Yar Chaikovsky, Blair Jacobs and Christina Ondrick of McDermott Will & Emery represented HTC. Jack Lever and Jeannine Yoo Sano of White & Case represented Google.