Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Nokia inching closer to first Android patent license deal, negotiating settlement with ViewSonic

18 patent license deals involving Android have been announced to date: 17 deals between Microsoft and Google's hardware partners (including all major Android OEMs except for Google's own Motorola Mobility, which is now under massive settlement pressure) and one between Apple and HTC. I have repeatedly said that Nokia would also cut a number of Android patent license deals, and the first one may fall into place in the very near term as counsel for ViewSonic confirmed to a German court today that a deal is being worked out. In fact, Dr. Matthias Sonntag of Gleiss Lutz even called the court three weeks ago to suggest that today's two Nokia v. ViewSonic trials be postponed in light of an impending settlement. But Nokia objected and apparently wants to keep up the pressure.

The judge presiding over today's trials, Judge Dr. Holger Kircher, raised the settlement question after the merits of two Nokia patent infringement claims against ViewSonic had been discussed at length.

Nokia's lead counsel in various German cases including one of the two cases tried today, Klaus Haft (name partner of Reimann Osterrieth Koehler Haft), confirmed that talks are ongoing and that both sides are willing to strike a deal.

While an agreement between Nokia and ViewSonic would be good news for both companies, it would be a major disappointment for Google to see one of its hardware partners validate Nokia's claims that Android has IP infringement issues. Google is concerned about the impact of patent license deals on Android's competitiveness vis-à-vis other platforms with a much more solid IP position.

Nokia sued RIM (now operating under the BlackBerry name), HTC and ViewSonic last May. RIM (BlackBerry) settled in December. HTC is also likely to settle in the near term: in a week from today the Mannheim Regional Court may very well grant Nokia an injunction against the Taiwanese device maker.

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