October 21, 2020

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    Nokia’s legal battle with Daimler over patent licensing fees won backing from a German court on Tuesday as the judge said the German automaker had not made a serious attempt to resolve the problem with the Finnish telecommunications company.

    The spat highlights a broader battle between tech companies and the car industry over royalties for technologies utilized in navigation systems, vehicle communications, and self-driving cars.

    The issues are important for Nokia, which makes 1.4 billion euros ($1.67 billion) in licensing revenues every year.

    The Mannheim court in Germany said neither Daimler nor other parties associated with the case were “seriously prepared or ready to conclude a license agreement” with Nokia on fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory terms.

    The same court however ruled against Nokia in the first patent case in February. There are eight other lawsuits pending in the German courts, with the third case set for September 5.

    After Tuesday’s judgment, the company can enforce a sales ban against the automaker but this would require it to post a 7-billion-euro ($8.35 billion) bond as a guarantee to cover any damages in case the ban is removed on appeal, making such a move unlikely.

    Daimler said it did not understand what actually convinced the court to come to this conclusion and that it would appeal.

    Nokia said the court verified it had acted in a fair way in licensing its cellular standard-essential patents (SEPs), and that Daimler was utilizing Nokia technologies without authorization.

    “We hope that Daimler will now accept its obligations and take a license on fair terms,” said Jenni Lukander, the president of Nokia Technologies.

    Continental, which intervened in the case, has criticized the judgment.

    “It is precisely such a licence agreement that Continental has long been demanding from Nokia and which it is currently requesting in court in the USA from Nokia,” the company said.

    The court also turned down a suggestion from the German cartel office that the case should be brought to Europe’s highest court in Luxembourg, saying it did not consider it appropriate.


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