An important aspect that every major mobile player in the world takes care of is its intellectual property, shorter IP. IP is the reason why many Chinese manufacturers don’t make their way to the West, and also why many local manufacturers stay locally (together with other reasons like oversaturation of the market and financial expense of expanding business). Phone manufacturers have to pay a ton of licenses before selling a device in the EU or US, for example, because companies like Qualcomm, Nokia or Microsoft could easily ask for a sales ban if you don’t comply
To gain leverage in negotiation with other mobile players that own patents, manufacturers invest in R&D and purchase patents. The best, and closes to us, example is Nokia. After they sold the iconic Devices & Services business to Microsoft, Nokia Technologies doubled revenue in 2 years. With no need for “cross-licensing”, because Nokia doesn’t make phones, other phone manufacturers, like Samsung, Apple, LG and Huawei, had to agree to terms acceptable to Nokia, without having much leverage in negotiation. Before the sales, if Nokia sued a phone manufacturer for patent infringement, the manufacturer, let’s say Apple, could sue back Nokia for using their patents. Today, the negotiation process is much more favorable to Nokia and we saw that in Apple-Nokia patent war 2.0.
HMD seems to be trying to strengthen their IP position by purchasing technology patents from Nokia. Searching the European Patent Office, I stumbled across 34 technology patents HMD owns. We are not talking here about design patents or trademarks, about which we regularly write when something new gets submitted to EUIPO, but patents that describe technology used in mobile devices, mainly in the way the phone connects to the network. The patents that I looked up (a dozen of them), originate from Nokia Networks, Nokia Solutions and Networks or from Nokia Siemens Networks, that are mentioned as the previous applicant(s).
We do not know if these patents are the result of a separate deal between Nokia and HMD that concerned strengthening HMD’s IP position or maybe this was a part of the original deal when HMD’s existence was announced. Nokia agreed to license their brand for 10 years, as well as patens. In the Xiaomi deal Nokia announced 6 months ago, they also sold a number of patents together with the license for other patents as well.
HMD Global is also a member of the Google Pax initiative, where members of the group share with themselves patents without compensations. Don’t know the requirements needed for entering Pax, but I guess you have to be able to put something in, to get something out of the group.
If you want to check HMD’s patent portfolio at EPO you can do it by clicking the link here.