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EC warns Nokia not to become a patent troll

09 Dec 2013
patent troll road sign

The European Commission (EC) has warned Nokia not to become a “patent troll” by charging more than is fair for the use of its technology.

Speaking in Paris on Monday Joaquín Almunia, vice president for the EC responsible for competition policy, said that although he had recently cleared the deal between Microsoft and Nokia, he was aware of some concerns raised that Nokia could abuse its position.

“Since Nokia will retain its patent portfolio, some have claimed that the sale of the unit would give the company the incentive to extract higher returns from this portfolio,” he said.

Almunia said the EC was not in a position to consider what a company may do in the future, but it reassured those concerned that it would follow up any future issues if necessary.

“If Nokia were to take illegal advantage of its patents in the future, we will open an antitrust case – but I sincerely hope we will not have to," he said.

Almunia used this point as a wider warning that the EC was well aware of the concerns that exist around patent trolls and would take action if required.

"The claims we dismissed were that Nokia would be tempted to behave like a patent troll or – to use a more polite phrase – a patent assertion entity,” he said.

“Whatever the name, these are organisations whose only commercial activity consists in licensing and enforcing patents – and I understand that they are a growing concern. You can rest assured that we are watching this space very carefully. DG [directorate general] for competition will hold patent trolls to the same standards as any other patent holder.”

The issue of patent trolls that exist solely to take legal action against firms by hoarding licenses has been a growing concern over the past few years, with firms such as Rackspace starting to fight back against these entities.

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Dan Worth

Dan Worth is the news editor for V3 having first joined the site as a reporter in November 2009. He specialises in a raft of areas including fixed and mobile telecoms, data protection, social media and government IT. Before joining V3 Dan covered communications technology, data handling and resilience in the emergency services sector on the BAPCO Journal

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