Patent dispute: Nokia and Lenovo reach an out-of-court settlement


With an out-of-court settlement, Nokia and Lenovo settle their patent dispute over video compression technology, which escalated last year and led to a temporary freeze on sales of Lenovo’s desktop PCs, notebooks and tablets. From now on, the PC manufacturer avoids the problem with license payments to Nokia.

In Nokia’s announcement speaks of a “multi-year, multi-technology cross-licensing”, from which Nokia in particular apparently benefits financially. Both companies involved are silent on the details.

Nokia had sought patent proceedings against Lenovo in Germany, the USA, Brazil and India, which led to a short-term sale of numerous Lenovo devices in Germany in October 2020. In November 2020, the preliminary injunction in Germany was lifted for the time being.

Lenovo is said to have infringed patents relating to the H.264 video codec, which compresses videos in order to save transfer rates. Corresponding hardware encoders and decoders to accelerate the codec are found in all modern GPUs – in graphics cards as well as in combination processors or mobile systems-on-chip (SoCs). Nokia asserts its claims with manufacturers of end devices and not with chip manufacturers such as AMD, Intel, Nvidia or Qualcomm.

Lenovo accused Nokia last year of not having designed the license offer according to the so-called FRAND (Fair, Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory) model, which provides for fair and transparent conditions for the licensing of standard-relevant patents. The Patent expert Florian Müller suspects in his blog Foss Patentsthat Nokia could have reduced the license costs now, because Lenovo could have dragged out the patent dispute without the immediate risk of a renewed sales stop. The next hearing was not scheduled for the summer in Munich.


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