Apple coughs up in Nokia patent spat

Nokia has announced that it has settled a nasty tit-for-tat patent spat with Apple and for once the beleaguered Finnish mobile giant has come out on top.

The resolution, which will see Apple signing a licence agreement for an undisclosed cash lump sum and on-going royalties for Nokia-owned technology, has put and end to all of the suits and counter-suits which have been flying between the two companies for years.

"We are very pleased to have Apple join the growing number of Nokia licensees," said Stephen Elop, president and chief executive officer of Nokia. "This settlement demonstrates Nokia's industry leading patent portfolio and enables us to focus on further licensing opportunities in the mobile communications market."

Nokia, which recently signed a deal rumoured to worth $1 billion with Microsoft which will see all future Nokia smartphones running the Redmond giant's Windows 7 Mobile operating system, has struggled to find a foothold in the explosive smartphone market dominated by Apple's iOS and Google' Android operating systems.

Nokia says it has invested more than €43 billion in its patent portfolio in the past two decades and is in danger of becoming an IP outfit rather than a world-leading mobile maker.

Although details of the specific patents in question are scant, we can only assume that many of the technologies in the dispute are common to Android and other smartphone operating systems and architectures. As such, it's only a matter of time before Nokia starts pursuing Google to sign up to a similar licensing deal for Android.

Having beaten the mighty Apple and its almost unlimited legal and financial resources, Google will have to think long and hard before taking Nokia on at a game at which the company is becoming alarmingly proficient.

Tech Patent expert Florian Meuller reckons it's not all bad news for the iPhone maker, however. "This is a sweet defeat for Apple because its competitors - especially those building Android-based devices - will also have to pay Nokia, and most if not all of them will likely have to pay more on a per-unit basis because they don't bring as much intellectual property to the table as Apple definitely did," he said.