Affiliate Disclosure
If you buy through our links, we may get a commission. Read our ethics policy.

Nokia to refuse licensing SIM patents if ETSI chooses Apple design

Finnish handset maker Nokia has said that it will elect not to license essential SIM-related patents to a new nano-SIM standard if the European Telecommunications Standards Institute chooses Apple's design over its own.

Both Nokia and Apple have been busy lobbying for their respective designs ahead of an ETSI vote on Thursday. Nokia fired off the latest salvo with a state threat not to participate if Apple wins the competition to set the design for the "fourth form factor (4FF) UICC," also dubbed "nano-SIM."

In a statement to The Verge, the handset maker said it had informed ETSI that, if Apple's proposal is selected, it will "not license its relevant patents to that standard."

As many as 50 patent families held by Nokia could be essential to the Apple's design.

Nokia did say that it's objections to Apple's proposal "have never been related to intellectual property." Instead, the company takes issue with Apple's nano-SIM design because it believes the specification does not meet ETSI's technical requirements.

Oberthur Technologies' nano-SIM prototype. | Source: The Verge

"As a result of the issues with the 4FF standardization work, Nokia is not willing to contribute its own IPR to the standard, if the Apple proposal is selected in violation of ETSI's rules," the statement read.

Nokia executive vice president and CTO Henry Tirri said, "We believe that Apple is mis-using the standardization process, seeking to impose its own proprietary solution on the industry and using ETSI merely to rubber stamp its proposal, rather than following established principles and practices.

"We urge ETSI members to resist this behaviour, which is not in the best interests of the industry or, more importantly, of consumers."

The company was, however, quick to disclaim that the decision not to support Apple's proposal "has no impact on Nokia's existing commitments to license its standard essential patents under FRAND terms to earlier adopted ETSI standards."

Earlier this week, it was revealed that Apple had pledged to offer royalty-free licensing of its nano-SIM design if the proposal was accepted and all other patent holders agreed to the same terms. Nokia responded by dismissing the pledge as "no more than an attempt to devalue" its competitors' intellectual property. The company said it was not aware of Apple holding any essential patents for its proposal.