The EU antitrust commission recently gave their okay for Microsoft to acquire Nokia’s hardware and services business, meaning Redmond can now complete the transaction early next year.
But Nokia will continue to service as a separate company — and although it will no longer market its own devices, it will license intellectual property. More importantly, it will retain countless thousands of important telecommunication and technology patents.
Microsoft, as part of the deal, will license and use Nokia’s patents along with its mapping services. But since Nokia will retain its patent portfolio, there have been some voices claiming that the sale of the business unit may give Nokia an incentive to extract higher returns from this goldmine of a portfolio.
Essentially, people fear Nokia may resort to taking legal actions against other companies and force them to pay extra, pay higher amounts for its essential patents.
Joaquín Almunia, the vice president of the European Commission for competition policy hopes otherwise. In a statement he said:
“When we assess a merger, we look into the possible anti-competitive impact of the company resulting from it. We cannot consider what the seller will do. If Nokia were to take illegal advantage of its patents in the future, we will open an antitrust case – but I sincerely hope we will not have to.
In other words, the claims we dismissed were that Nokia would be tempted to behave like a patent troll or – to use a more polite phrase – a patent assertion entity.”
Stern words, maybe, but sane words, nevertheless.
Recent studies show that anywhere from 40 to 60 percent of all patent lawsuits in the US are initiated by patent trolls. Since Microsoft will now be taking over most of Nokia’s research units, the Finnish company will now have severely limited capabilities to research and develop new technologies.
The technology world would be hoping Nokia keeps on playing by the book.