Nokia fights back over Google's 'patent troll' allegations

Nokia denied Google's claim that it is colluding with Microsoft on intellectual property to intentionally damage Google's Android platform.

Nokia CEO Stephen Elop, left, and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.

Nokia said in a statement that while it has not seen Google's complain to the European Commission the "suggestion that Nokia and Microsoft are colluding on intellectual property rights is wrong."

"Both companies have their own intellectual property rights portfolios and strategies and operate independently,"Nokia said, adding that some Android devices had "significant (intellectual property) infringement issues" relating to Nokia's patents.

Google, in an antitrust complaint made to the European Commission, is accusing Nokia and Microsoft of using proxy companies to enforce patents with the aim of damaging the prospects of the Android operating system and boosting Microsoft's technology. Nokia and Microsoft in 2011 forged a partnership around Microsoft's Windows Phone platform.

The allegation, according to Dow Jones Newswires, says the two firms have partnered with companies such as Canada-based Mosaid Technologies which enable these "patent trolls" to legally enforce their patent rights and share the resulting revenue.

Google claims that Nokia and Microsoft have transferred 1,200 patents to Mosaid, and is planning to lodge a complaint with U.S. competition regulators as a pre-emptive measure despite not being sued by Mosaid or related firms. "Nokia and Microsoft are colluding to raise the costs of mobile devices for consumers, creating patent trolls that side-step promises both companies have made," Google said in a statement. "They should be held accountable, and we hope our complaint spurs others to look into these practices."

Microsoft has dismissed the complaint as a "desperate tactic" by Google. "Google is complaining about antitrust in the smartphone industry when it controls more than 95 per cent of mobile search and advertising," Microsoft said in an emailed statement to Reuters.

Nokia has already taken legal action against Android device makers HTC and ViewSonic for infringing its patents and is expected to pursue others. The company earns €500 million a year from its patent royalties and is thought to be looking to boost this by several hundred more millions of euros a year.

According to a recent analysis by industry analyst Chetan Sharma, based on patent grants in both the United States and Europe from 1995 to 2012, the mobile patent market was led by Nokia, Samsung, Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson, Microsoft and IBM. In 2011, the patent market was led by Samsung, IBM, Sony, Research In Motion, Microsoft and Qualcomm.

For more:
- see this Reuters article
- see this Dow Jones Newswires article
- see this separate Reuters article

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