Nokia Escalates Patent Wars by Taking on German Lenovo Sales

Nokia Oyj is seeking to block Lenovo Group Ltd. from selling products in Germany after a patent victory, escalating a fight over licensing.

The action follows a Sept. 30 injunction from a Munich court that bans Lenovo from selling anything using Nokia video-compression technology. On Tuesday, Nokia sought to enforce the ruling, which covers PCs, laptops and tablets, the Finnish company said in a statement.

“Legal action is never our preferred option, but Lenovo has been unwilling to enter into discussions, despite a clear judgment confirming their unauthorized use of Nokia’s patented technology,” Nokia said. “Our door is open for Lenovo to resolve the matter through good faith negotiation.”

The case is part of Nokia’s strategy to collect license fees from manufacturers of retail products -- rather than the makers of individual components. The automobile industry is also a target, with Daimler AG battling the former phone maker.

Lenovo is appealing, and says Nokia has refused to license its intellectual property on fair and non-discriminatory conditions, so-called FRAND terms, to either Lenovo or its third-party suppliers that need the technology.

“We believe the availability of standardized technologies on FRAND terms is critical for the future of the global tech industry and the proliferation of affordable innovation to customers around the world,” Lenovo said. “Nokia’s licensing practices threaten this access.”

Nokia and Lenovo are squaring off in courtrooms in Germany, the U.S., Brazil and India. The U.S. International Trade Commission is investigating a Nokia complaint that seeks to block imports of laptop, tablet and desktop computers made by the Chinese company.

Usually, litigants refrain from enforcing German patent rulings while appeals are pending. If the higher court overturns the injunction, the enforcing company has to compensate the other side for any lost sales, which can be substantial.

Threatening to block sales, however, often brings the two sides to the negotiating table.

Nokia is expecting another ruling its battle with Daimler on Oct. 30, again in the same Munich court.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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