Nokia, Microsoft Pact Should Bring Simpler End to Patent War with Apple

Lora Bentley

Friday, Finnish smartphone maker Nokia announced that Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 will be its mobile operating system of choice as the company begins to implement new strategy.


Nokia and Microsoft have created what their respective CEOs are calling "a broad strategic partnership." Bing will become the primary search engine on Nokia devices and services. Nokia mapping technology will become part of Microsoft's mobile offerings. Both companies will collaborate on development and marketing of mobile products.


The goal, they say, is to create a mobile ecosystem that will disrupt the ecosystems already in place.


When I first read this news, I didn't give it much thought. My colleague Carl Weinschenk does a great job of covering all-things-mobile at over at Unified Communications Edge, so I usually leave such things to him. But then I found a blog post by intellectual property activist Florian Mueller.


He says the new alliance between Nokia and Microsoft may simplify the ongoing smartphone patent war between Nokia and Apple. Mueller makes three specific points:

  • ... Nokia is now covered by Microsoft as far as Windows Phone-based devices are concerned, and it's been a long time since Apple and Microsoft had (and settled) a patent dispute ...
  • Apple primarily asserts patents on touchscreen interfaces and other elements of modern day smartphones against Nokia. Now that Nokia has a partnership with Microsoft in place, it can deliver that kind of user experience anyway. ...
  • In light of market dynamics, it would now make a whole lot of sense for Apple and Nokia to stop wasting resources on their fight with each other and instead focus on license deals with all those makers of Android-based devices.

I think he's right. Actually, I think the argument could be won on the strength of that third point alone, given that Android is now the second-most popular smartphone operating system, with 22.7 percent of the world market in 2010. If current trends continue, those numbers will only grow in the years to come.

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