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Sharp & Nokia Set To Benefit From Wireless Technology Fight With Daimler Benz

A ruling in Germany and one in the USA on Saturday, has put Sharp and Nokia in a unique position when it comes to wireless technology in luxury German motor vehicles, maybe with the exception of Mercedes Benz who are objecting to paying a $15 per vehicle licence fee.

In a bid to streamline the process, wireless-technology companies from Qualcomm to Sharp and Nokia joined forces in a patent pool organised by Avanci, which promises to collect royalties from the car industry by offering a fixed price per vehicle, currently running at $15 a car for a 4G-standard license.

Most agreed with the exception of Daimler Benz.

Nokia and Sharp retained a catalogue of thousands of wireless communications patents that is steadily growing thanks to a thriving research operation by both Companies.

Now an attempt to change how those patents are monetized has led Nokia into court with Daimler AG, the maker of Mercedes-Benz cars.

Traditionally, automakers require that their components makers, handle any royalty issues, and indemnify them for any patent demands that may come later.

According to Bloomberg Daimler disagrees and has no desire to sign up to the deal that most other manufacturers have accepted.

Instead, the company wants to maintain the practice of suppliers negotiating the licenses, ideally at a fraction of the umbrella-deal cost.

Nokia is trying to enforce its approach via a high-stakes court battle, with hearings in Munich, Dusseldorf, and Mannheim. It’s here that the Finns struck legal gold: the company won an injunction that could stop Daimler from selling cars in Germany, which would be a suicidal situation for the inventor of the automobile on its home turf.

One consolation for Daimler is that enforcing a car-sale ban would require Nokia to post collateral of 7 billion euros ($8.3 billion) in a separate proceeding, a risky proposition for the Finnish company given the huge outlay.

But then on Sept. 10, Sharp won an injunction in a Munich court that also threatens a ban on Daimler vehicles, albeit at a much lower collateral of just 5.5 million euros, putting additional pressure on the carmaker.

Daimler says it wants fair and non-discriminatory access to patents on standardized technology, calling the practice essential to support development and services. Nokia, on the other hand, says it made “fair and reasonable offers to Daimler” and its peers, who have instead chosen to use the company’s inventions “without authorization and compensation.”

On Saturday in the USA a judge ruled that Continental AG, which makes control units for Daimler AG cars, can’t pursue antitrust claims against the wireless patent owners including Sharp, Nokia and Qualcomm who are seeking royalties on telecommunications technology, a federal judge in Texas ruled.
The judge ruled that Avanci isn’t violating antitrust laws when it negotiates license agreements with automakers rather than the component makers, District Court Judge Barbara Lynn said in dismissing the suit.

The licensing will now charges $15 per vehicle for the use of patented technology that’s key to an industry standard for 4G telecommunications, and is developing a price for 5G, the next generation of wireless technology that promises to alter everything from driverless cars to robotic surgery.