Ever since Nokia acquired Alcatel-Lucent back in 2015, the situation about the “Alcatel” brand remained unclear, at least for us end users. Back in 2004, Alcatel and Chinese electronics manufacturer TCL Communication created a joint venture for the production of Alcatel-branded mobile phones. In less than a year after founding, TCL Communication purchased Alcatel’s stake and became the sole owner of the newly founded company, But what happened with the Alcatel brand? Who actually owns it?
The Alcatel brand never changed its owner, at least till 2015, to be precise. The brand’s registered owner is Alcatel-Lucent, Franch telecommunications giant that was acquired by Nokia in 2015. To clarify the situation about the brand, we asked Nokia for an official stance about the ownership question. Nokia replied:
The Alcatel brand was licensed by Alcatel-Lucent to TCL for mobile phones and devices and this license expires at the end of 2024. When Nokia acquired the assets of Alcatel-Lucent in 2016, this also included licensing agreements for the Alcatel brand.
This means that Nokia, technically, has two brands on the mobile market: the “Nokia” brand licensed to HMD Global; and the Alcatel brand licensed to TCL. But the ways the brands are licensed is completely different.
Nokia has licensed its brand and patents for mobile devices to a Finnish startup called HMD Global, but under a set of criteria. Firstly, to better control what HMD is doing with the brand, Nokia has one seat on the five member board of directors at HMD. Nokia’s board member can veto every HMD’s decision that could be harmful to the brand. Additionally, Nokia appointed a group of “brand partnership” employees whose main goal is deep cooperation with HMD in the development of the Devices, marketing strategy, and other segments related to the “well being” of the Nokia brand.
In contrast to the heavy oversight Nokia has over HMD, TCL is much more flexible in the production of Alcatel-branded devices. Some control probably exists, but not like with HMD. It is interesting that TCL also licensed the “BlackBerry” brand for usage on phones, and presumably tablets. Maybe it’s a back up plan in case Nokia decides not to extend the agreement in 2024. After all, the Nokia brand is back on the market and Alcatel is a well established player that has its user base.
The year 2024, when the Alcatel brand license between Nokia and TCL is set to expire, is far ahead, so lets focus on this year and the Nokia-branded phones like Nokia 3, 5 or 6 that will soon hit the market.