Nokia’s deal with Microsoft could help Nokia resolve its patent fight with Apple. Picking Android instead would have made the situation worse.Nokia first sued Apple over patent infringement back in 2009, alleging that Apple used Nokia patents on wireless technologies like GSM in the iPhone. Apple countersued and the companies have been fighting it out in court ever since.
But as intellectual property activist Florian Mueller explains on his blog, Microsoft and Apple seem to have an understanding.
Their partnership goes back 1997, when Microsoft made $150 million investment in Apple — remember when Bill Gates got booed for appearing via videoscreen at MacWorld?
The cross-licensing deal they announced then was only to last for five years, but Microsoft and Apple have presumably renewed it several times since. At the very least, while both companies have had all sorts of legal fights over IP, they haven’t fought each other in decades. (Apple lost an IP case against Microsoft in the early 1990s after it claimed that Windows violated the “look and feel” of the Macintosh.)
If Nokia had gone with Android, its patent fight with Apple would have gotten worse — Apple has filed suits against Android distributors HTC and Motorola — and it might have sparked a patent fight with Microsoft as well, which has also asserted IP claims against Android.
Nokia may still maintain a belligerent stance against Apple, but at least it has some protection for the phones it ships using Windows Phone 7. More likely, Nokia will look at market dynamics and decide that a court battle with Apple is not a productive use of resources — just like Microsoft and Apple decided years ago.