#Acacia, using ex-#Nokia patents, sues #Apple and US Carriers

Late last year, Apple filed an antitrust complaint against Nokia, accusing the company of “conspiracy against Apple“, by creating a network of patent trolls that are extorting Money from Apple by filing aggressive patent lawsuits. One of the patent trolls Apple accused is Acacia Research, in fact the largest publicly traded patent-assertion company. Acacia’s Cellular Communications Equipment unit has sued Apple and US phone carriers including Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile for infringing four patents related to basic cell phone technologies, all originating from Nokia.

Nokia’s patent troll network, made by Apple

Nokia and Acacia have a so-called “patent privateering” agreement, in which Nokia sells and/or shares some patents with Acacia for cash and/or cut in the patent deals Acacia will make with 3rd parties. Apple accused Nokia of breaching antitrust laws by doing so, and Nokia responded with a bunch of lawsuits claiming that Apple is trying to avoid paying for Nokia’s patents that are used in their devices.

Nokia expects a positive outcome of this litigation, and the company has already warned investors that the patent war versus Apple could cost about €100 million annually. Also, Withings products took the biggest hit in this war, with Apple removing the products from its store, and Nokia cancelling the new Home Plus camera probably because of the dispute.

Source: ArsTechnica.com

  • Rocky

    Interesting that “Helsinki Memory Technology” logo looks like “Nokia Connecting People” logo 😀

    • Maybe because Nokia co-founded it 🙂 http://www.helsinkimemorytech.com/about-us

      • Rocky

        Thank you. Wait, after I read that link, maybe i know what HMD stand for, “Helsinki Mobile Devices” hahaha

        • Could be, but i have another theory. The last trademark Nokia Corporation submitted to EUIPO is “The Home of Nokia” (https://euipo.europa.eu/eSearch/#details/trademarks/016338931), while HMD calls themselves The Home of Nokia Phones/Devices, so HMD could be the acronym for Home of Mobile Devices. 🙂

          • Rocky

            Why they didn’t reveal what HMD is 😁. It’s interesting that Nokia patented the slogan​ of HMD, that’s showing​ how close they are.

  • Michael

    It’s very strange, the title of the article you linked is, “Patent-holding company uses ex-Nokia patents to sue Apple, phone carriers”. Then, later on and explained by you, “Patent privateering takes place when an operating company shares its
    patents with a patent-assertion entity for a cut of the profits.”.

    So are they *ex*-Nokia patents (I take that to mean no longer owned) or are they shared? Shared sort of implies that Nokia still owns them, or does share mean they were given in exchange for the agreement that Nokia would profit? Shared is just a strange word.

    Why would Nokia do that instead of just keeping the patent themselves? In this case, yes, I’d agree that Acacia is a patent troll. Nokia should keeps it’s nose clean and get out of those type agreements. Or am I missing something more to the story and the practice?

    • Most of deals are confidental and combination of selling or licensing (sharing), but I can point out this one with Vringo: Nokia sold 500 patents for 22 million euros, right to use those sold patents on its Devices, and a 35% cut from future license deals Vringo makes from Nokia patents. https://thenextweb.com/insider/2012/08/09/mobile-tech-firm-vringo-to-sell-31-2m-worth-of-stock-to-buy-ip-from-nokia-and-more/#.tnw_8E4xcjIN
      Or this agreement with WiLan, where Nokia sold some patents and licensed some patnets, but other details are unknown http://www.marketwatch.com/story/wilan-and-nokia-networks-sign-license-agreement-2014-07-07

      Really don’t know the legal side of the story, but other companies, especially Microsoft, have been doing this for years. I guess a big patent holder like Apple has some leverage over Nokia, because of all Nokia Products at that time, so it was easier to give the patents to a smaller Company that has no Products, thus cutting the cross-licensing segment that always lowers the valeu of patents. Here is a very critical site about patent trolling, with a dedicated page to Nokia. I didn’t read all of its content, so don’t really Know, but the titles seem interesting hehe 🙂 http://techrights.org/wiki/index.php/Nokia

      • Michael

        Thanks for the link. I’ll read up on it some more. I’m a Nokia fan and investor, but I’m not above seeing what is “right”. Some of this stuff that companies (not just nokia) are doing doesn’t seem “right” and I don’t have a problem with doing some patent reform that is clear and works across the board for all companies. For example, with the Vringo deal, if Nokia sold the patents, then they shouldn’t get a cut and if Vringo just purchased a right to use, they shouldn’t be cutting any deals for themselves or on behalf on Nokia. Having said that, Nokia, should 100% benefit from patents it owns and for which it did research and development. I don’t know…maybe (probably) I’m just talking out of my rear and simplifying things too much and happy to hear differing opinions.

        I’d really hate for Nokia to start opening itself up to negative press through income from patent deal structuring that isn’t clear and ending being termed a patent troll in blanket terms. We have very good example in Microsoft to know what happens when popular opinion turns against a company.

        • I agree 100%. A patent reform is needed, and many patent experts in Europe are saying that. Probably the biggest expert in mobile tech IPs is Florian Muller https://twitter.com/FOSSpatents from fosspatents.com. Don’t know financially how much is Nokia benefitting from privateering compared to direct licensing. That’s too deep for the in-depth Nokia report the company publishes regularly.

          • The whole thing about patents is a bit sensitive and tricky. If some company invested a lot of money into the R&D and invented something that can be used by many, they have right to get back something from that investment. Of course that many other companies will be jealous and try to skip paying the royalties, and call someone patent troll.

            I agree that patent reform is needed, or at least better governance (more transparent maybe?) with patents. We don’t know how much some manufacturers are paying Nokia, but to avoid being called troll or just to avoid negative press, Nokia made an agreement with other companies to do the bad work.

            But this is capitalism, if you need something, pay for it.