BlackBerry launches patent-infringement suit against Nokia

BlackBerry DTEK50 with dry ice behind it

BlackBerry, a former titan of the smartphone world, and Nokia, a company that helped pioneer the mobile phone during the device’s rise in the mid-90s, are now engaged in a legal battle surrounding patent infringement.

BlackBerry has filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Nokia, demanding royalties related to the Finnish company’s mobile products that utilize an industrywide technology standard known as 3GPP.

All of Nokia’s products that use ‘Flexi Multiradio base stations, radio network controllers and Liquid Radio Software,’ utilize technology BlackBerry believes it holds the patent on, according to the complaint filed today in a federal U.S. court in Wilmington, Delaware.

“BlackBerry seeks to obtain recompense for Nokia’s unauthorized use of BlackBerry’s patented technology,” writes the Waterloo-based security and enterprise services company in its suit filing. BlackBerry, however, does not state how much it’s seeking from Nokia.

In the suit, BlackBerry says Nokia has “persisted in encouraging the use” of these “standard-compliant products,” without an official license from BlackBerry.

Despite BlackBerry recent struggles in the smartphone space, similar to Nokia (which is planning a comeback at this year’s Mobile World Congress), the former smartphone giant still owns a number of important and often-used wireless patents. BlackBerry CEO John Chen has utilized recent acquisitions to create what the company believes is a comprehensive enterprise-focused suit of security-focused software.

“BlackBerry seeks to obtain recompense for Nokia’s unauthorized use of BlackBerry’s patented technology”

This shift was made in an effort to turn the company’s fortunes around and pivot towards becoming a devices and services company, rather than a smartphone manufacturer.

According to Bloomberg, some of the patents mentioned in the suit were owned by fallen telecommunications giant Nortel Networks, which at one point Nokia tried to purchase back in 2009.

In 2011, BlackBerry was part of a consortium of companies that purchased Nortel’s patent library from the depths of bankruptcy for $4.5 billion USD. These patents were then split up between Apple, BlackBerry and Microsoft, as well as other massive tech company’s that were part of the bailout group.

BlackBerry’s filing claims that its patent cover essential elements that power the 3GPP telecommunications standard, and that the company is not seeking to block Nokia devices that utilize the technology. Instead, it says it wants to license them on “fair and reasonable terms.”

Prior to the release of BlackBerry 10 back in 2012, BlackBerry, then known as Research In Motion, was embroiled in a similar patent dispute with Nokia that delayed the release of BlackBerry 10 (BB10), the next iteration of the company’s proprietary operating system.

Nokia and BlackBerry eventually came to a patent licensing agreement that settled the suit. BlackBerry also took similar legal action against Android smartphone manufacturer Blu last year.

Source: Bloomberg