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Thursday, March 29, 2012, 03:43 pm PT (06:43 pm ET)

RIM claims Apple using proxy votes to win nano-SIM standard

In a letter sent to the European Telecommunications Standards Institute on Thursday, RIM alleges that Apple is trying to sway the nano-SIM standard vote by having company representatives change their affiliation to cast proxy votes.

Coming on the heels of Nokia's threat to not license SIM-related patents if ETSI decides in favor of Apple's nano-SIM design, the RIM letter further confounds the european organization's decision on the new standard.

Uncovered by The Verge, RIM's complaint names three supposed Apple employees who changed their affiliation "over night and register[ed] to the meeting not representing their employer or any of their affiliates but representing a completely different company." The representatives reportedly flip-flopped and registered as proxies for Bell Mobility, KT Corp., and SK Telekom.

If the claims are true, it would be in violation of ETSI Technical Working Procedures that prohibits voting by proxy. RIM is calling votes from the offending representatives to be disqualified.



Apple, Nokia and RIM all submitted competing designs for the future nano-SIM standard which is currently undergoing voting by ETSI in France.

The nano-SIM battle has heated up as the vote draws near because patent rights to the future standard could mean royalty fees for the losers. Earlier this week, Apple pledged to offer royalty-free licensing if its design were to win, but Nokia criticized the move as an attempt to devalue competitors' patents.

As smart devices become slimmer and more feature-rich, internal space is becoming a highly valued commodity and as such manufacturers are looking to cut excess mass wherever they can. The proposed nano-SIM format, based on 20-year-old SIM technology, would shrink the card size to allow a device to carry more critical components like more radios and higher capacity batteries.

Apple's design is basically a modification of the current microSIM standard minus some extraneous plastic around the metal contacts. Competitors are wary, however, because the specifications call for a tray to be used and there is concern that users may accidentally force Apple's nano-SIM into incompatible existing card slots.

ETSI is in the process of voting on the new standard and should decide on a final design in the coming days.