Nokia loses UK patent appeal against IPCom, repercussions debated

Patent holder IPCom said that Nokia needs to stop selling existing 3G phones, while Nokia said they aren't affected

London's Court of Appeal has dismissed Nokia's attempt to overturn a ruling that it infringed on an IPCom patent. Nokia said the decision won't affect its current products, but IPCom doesn't agree and is continuing to seek an injunction against all Nokia 3G phones, it said.

Nokia's take on the Thursday verdict is that it upheld the UK High Court's ruling from June 16, 2011 that IPCom's patent EP 1 841 268 (#100a) was not valid as granted but was valid with amendments and that older Nokia software versions may infringe. However, later versions used in current products do not, it said.

However, IPCom said the previous ruling found that the patent is valid and essential to a mandatory section of the UMTS standard, and thus affects all of Nokia's 3G phones, according to a spokesman for the company.

Nokia now has the opportunity to open good faith discussions with IPCom on paying IPCom a license fee for the use of its intellectual property, it said in a statement.

That isn't likely to happen, as Nokia is convinced the patent isn't valid. Also, U.K. operators have also confirmed that the feature described in the patent has never been implemented in their 3G networks, according to Nokia.

The patent in question is related to how access channels are assigned to users in 3G networks. It allows, for example, emergency services to be given priority access when a network is congested, according to IPCom.

Recently, Nokia's position -- as well as HTC's, which IPCom has also sued -- got some support from the European Patent Office (EPO) in Munich, which revoked the patent in question.

While that was a loss for IPCom, the U.K. decision has lifted its spirits. The fact that the court has reaffirmed the patent's validity, and done so in full knowledge of the earlier decision made by the EPO, which revoked the patent on formal grounds, makes IPCom confident that the EPO's ruling will be overturned on appeal, it said.

IPCom was founded in 2007, and the company acquired a mobile patent portfolio from Bosch the same year.

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Mikael Ricknäs

IDG News Service
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