Nokia may no longer be the market leader in smartphones, but it still has more than 30,000 patents related to various technologies used in smartphones, wireless equipment and standards. It is one of the few companies to win against Apple in a patent duel, and still receives licensing royalty payments from Apple.
Nokia has sold more than 450 patents to Sisvel, an Italian patent licensing company, or in other words, a patent troll. The patents cover technologies related to 3G, LTE and GSM. Some of them are essential patents, and must be licensed to others on FRAND terms.
Nokia still retains a license to these patents, but the exact details of the deal haven’t been revealed. Nokia could either have sold them off for a lump sum amount, or it could have sold them in return for a cut of the licensing revenue and access to other patents in Sisvel’s portfolio. In any case, it is selling off part of its patent portfolio to raise funds, presumably to expand operations.
Nokia’s patent portfolio is one of the most important ones in the mobile and wireless industry, which has been plagued by patent lawsuits among the major players. Google recently acquired Motorola primarily for its patent portfolio. Microsoft is set to generate billions of dollars in licensing revenue from Android device manufacturers.
It’s not clear what Sisvel plans to do with the acquired patents, but it’s definitely not going to sit on them.