Joff Wild

In April, before its recent mobile phone deal with Microsoft Nokia’s CFO Timo Ihamuotila stated that the company would generate €500 million ($653 million) from patent licensing this year. If you add €165 million to that amount, one-tenth of the amount Microsoft agreed to pay for its 10 year licence to the Nokia patent portfolio which formed part of the acquisition that was announced on 3rd September, you get to €665 million, or approximately $900 million. Yesterday, an ITC trade panel ruled that HTC had infringed two non-standards essential patents owned by the Finnish company relating to mobile phones and tablets it sells in the US. It is likely that the Commission will soon agree to ban the import of a number of HTC products, including the HTC Amaze 4G, the Inspire 4G, Flyer, Jetstream, Radar 4G, Rezound and Sensation 4G.

Writing on his FOSS Patents blog Florian Mueller notes that Nokia is also enjoying success in assertions against HTC in Germany and, in addition, has cases pending against the Taiwanese company in both Italy and the UK. He writes: “The dispute may soon reach a tipping point, or may already have reached one depending on HTC's assessment of the situation, and it won't take too long before HTC will opt to take a royalty-bearing non-SEP license from Nokia.” If that is the case - and it doesn’t look as if HTC has much with which to stage a fight-back at this stage - before 2013 is ended it could be that Nokia will become a $1 billion per annum licensing company.

My understanding is that Nokia’s portfolio is relatively unencumbered. It already counts Apple, Microsoft and BlackBerry among its licensees. HTC would be another big scalp, and then there is the rest of the Android eco-system to go after. Given that, the chances are that pretty soon we could be talking about Nokia's $2 billion a year (or even more) licensing operation. The company's shareholders will be delighted. So will investors with Microsoft and Apple stock.