Nokia lashes out at Apple's royalty-free nano-SIM

Apple's proposal for royalty-free licensing is no more than an attempt to devalue the intellectual property of others, the company said

Apple's royalty-free nano-SIM is an empty promise, because the company doesn't have any essential patents related to its nano-SIM proposal, a Nokia spokesman said on Monday.

The two companies are fighting over which proposal will be used as the basis for a new, smaller SIM card, dubbed nano-SIM. On Thursday, standards organization ETSI (European Telecommunications Standards Institute ) will vote on the Apple and Nokia proposals. The latter is also backed by Research In Motion and Motorola Mobility.

If there are patent claims essential to implement an ETSI standard, the organization would request that they be licensed under so-called fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms.

But Apple wants to go one step further. The company will grant royalty-free licenses to any Apple patents essential to nano-SIM, provided that Apple's proposal is adopted as a standard and that all other patent holders accept the same terms, according to a letter that a source showed patent analyst and blogger Florian Mueller.

If the competing proposal isn't royalty-free, Apple's nano-SIM will have a key advantage that will affect the outcome of the vote, Mueller said via email.

However, Nokia isn't impressed by Apple's offer, and doesn't seem to want to do the same.

"We are not aware of any Apple Intellectual Property which it considers essential to its nano-SIM proposal. In light of this, Apple's proposal for royalty-free licensing seems no more than an attempt to devalue the intellectual property of others," a spokesman said via email.

Last week, Nokia detailed why its nano-SIM proposal is technically superior.

For example, it has completely different dimensions from today's micro-SIM cards, while Apple's proposed card has the same length as the width of current micro SIMs, and so would risk jamming if users tried to force it into devices, leading to card and product damage, Nokia said.

Also, Apple's proposal requires a tray, which increases cost and takes up more room. The latter would mitigate the advantages of having a smaller card, according to Nokia.

Apple did not comment on Nokia's claims.

Send news tips and comments to mikael_ricknas@idg.com

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Mikael Ricknäs

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