Nokia backs vote delay in Apple nano-SIM battle

The ETSI standards body has put off a vote on the next-generation SIM card standard for at least a month, a move welcomed by Nokia, which has threatened to pull its patents if Apple gets its way

Nokia, which is allied with Motorola and Research In Motion in a battle with Apple over the nano-SIM standard, has welcomed a decision by Europe's telecoms standards body to postpone a vote on the issue.

The European Telecommunications Standards Institute said its smart card platform technical committee (TC SCP) dealing with the issue has put the vote off for at least another month. The delay is necessary "in the interest of trying to achieve a broad industry consensus", ETSI said in a statement on Friday.

"The next opportunity for a decision is at the forthcoming TC SCP meeting, on 31 May — 1 June 2012 in Osaka, Japan. An earlier meeting may be called by the chairman of TC SCP to deal with this subject but this requires a minimum of 30 days' notice to ETSI Members," the standards body explained.

The move came shortly after BlackBerry maker RIM formally complained to ETSI that Apple has tried to unfairly skew a scheduled vote in its favour, by having three of its employees register to provide proxy votes on behalf of other companies.

Nokia welcomed the delay on Saturday, saying the decision will "allow ETSI members to work collaboratively on selecting the best technology solution that meets ETSI's pre-agreed requirements, rather than adopting an inferior solution".

The Finnish company is "pleased that the ETSI General Assembly has already decided to review its rules regarding granting new voting rights for members", it added in its statement.

Nano-SIM standard

The battle over the nano-SIM standard became public in late March, when it emerged that Apple had submitted its own design for the next-generation SIM card to ETSI last year. Nokia, backed by Motorola and RIM, had proposed an alternative version.

Whichever standard is chosen, the nano-SIM will be smaller than today's SIM and micro-SIM cards, allowing manufacturers to make thinner handsets.

Apple has reportedly said it would license its nano-SIM design to anyone in the industry without asking for royalties, but Nokia maintains that Apple's design uses Nokia patents without permission.

The Finnish company has also said that Apple's proposal for the 'fourth form factor' (4FF) SIM card is technically inferior.

"Nokia's objections to Apple's proposal have never been related to intellectual property. However, as a result of the issues with the 4FF standardisation work, Nokia is not willing to contribute its own [intellectual property] to the standard, if the Apple proposal is selected in violation of ETSI's rules," Nokia said in an earlier statement on Wednesday.

"Nokia holds more than 50 patent families covering SIM-related technologies that we believe may be essential to Apple's proposal. We have informed ETSI that, if Apple's proposal is selected, then Nokia will not license its relevant patents to that standard," the company continued.

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