​US jury clears Apple of infringing five patents once held by Nokia

A jury has knocked back a claim by a patent licensing firm that was seeking damages from Apple over five Nokia patents.

A jury in Texas decided that Apple did not infringe five wireless patents formerly held by Nokia that were sold to Canadian patent licensing firm Conversant.

Conversant's wholly owned subsidiary Core Wireless Sarl sued Apple in 2012 in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, Tyler Division, seeking a global patent licensing deal with Apple over its iPhone and iPad.

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The five patents in question were part of 2,000 that were once owned by Nokia. Conversant, formerly called Mosaid, gained the patents after acquiring Core Wireless in 2011. Conversant didn't actually acquire the patents but struck a deal with Microsoft and Nokia to monetise them and share two-thirds of its licensing revenues with the two companies.

Core Wireless' 2012 press release announcing the suit says its original claim centred on eight standards essential patents, which are meant to be licensed on 'FRAND' or fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms. The company was seeking damages, future royalties, and other remedies for Apple allegedly infringing existing and future products.

According to Reuters, court documents showed the original claim involved more than a dozen patents that were narrowed down to five last year in order to streamline the case.

The jury took five hours to deliver its verdict on Core Wireless' claim for $100m in damages. The publication noted that while the jury cleared Apple of infringement, it also rejected Apple's claim that Core Wireless breached its obligation to license the standards essential patents.

Microsoft and Nokia sealed a licensing agreement for the 2,000 patents as part of their 2011 negotiations over transitioning Windows Phone as Nokia's main smartphone platform, which preceded Microsoft's acquisition of Nokia's devices business last year.

Microsoft saw itself as having a "passive economic interest" in revenues the patents acquired by Core Wireless could return to it. That deal happened against the backdrop of the auction for Nortel's patents in which Microsoft, Apple, BlackBerry, Ericsson, and others teamed up to outbid Google. At the time, Microsoft was also ramping up its Android licensing program.

At some point in the past four years Microsoft's deal with Core Wireless came to an end.

"Microsoft no longer has a financial stake in Core Wireless," a Microsoft spokesperson told ZDNet.

Apple received a less favourable outcome in the same courthouse last month, when a jury found iTunes infringed on Smartflash's patents and ordered Apple to pay $532.9 million.

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