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Oppo will pay 'catch-up' royalties to settle Nokia patent spat

Nokia and Oppo have reached a deal that brings the curtain down on their long-running patent dispute.

Nick Wood

January 25, 2024

3 Min Read

The two have struck a multi-year cross-licensing deal that grants both parties access to their respective standards-essential patents (SEPs) relating to 5G technology.

Under the agreement, China-based Oppo has agreed to make royalty payments to Nokia, as well as catch-up payments to cover the period of time when it wasn't paying to use Nokia's SEPs.

Both Nokia and Oppo have gone to some lengths to prove that everybody is friends again.

"We are delighted to have reached a cross-license agreement with Oppo that reflects the mutual respect for each other's intellectual property and Nokia's investments in R&D and contributions to open standards. Oppo is one of the leading companies in the global smartphone market and we look forward to working together to bring further innovation to their users around the world," said Jenni Lukander, president of Nokia Technologies.

"This agreement reflects the mutual recognition and respect for each other's intellectual property and lays the foundation for future collaboration between Oppo and Nokia," added Oppo's chief intellectual property officer, Feng Ying. "OPPO continues to advocate for reasonable royalty fees and a long-term approach to intellectual property that supports the resolution of disputes through amicable negotiations and mutual respect for the value of all intellectual property."

While the news was presented as a mutually-beneficial agreement, really this is a win for the Finnish kit maker, which has been pursuing Oppo – among others – for royalty payments since filing its lawsuit in 2021.

After all, 'catch-up payments' sounds like an alternative, sanitised way of saying 'settlement'.

The writing has been on the wall for Oppo in Europe since August 2022, when a court in Germany slapped it with an injunction, forcing it to pull out of the German market altogether.

Last July, the UK's High Court ruled that Oppo was an unwilling licensee. Rather than agree to pay a global FRAND rate set by the UK, Oppo in September opted to be injuncted instead.

Oppo received another setback earlier this month, when Germany's regional court in Munich ruled against it in a separate dispute with patent-licensing firm InterDigital.

Not only did the court find that Oppo had infringed various of InterDigital's SEPs, it also ruled that Oppo acted as an unwilling licensee.

InterDigital took the opportunity at the time to air a bit of dirty laundry, claiming that in almost 10 years of negotiations, Oppo had not made a single payment in return for using InterDigital's patented technology, preferring instead to employ delay tactics.

The settlement with Nokia might pave the way for another one between Oppo and InterDigital.

With these disputes behind it, Oppo would potentially have a bigger addressable market for its smartphones.

Oppo took the opportunity while CES was taking place in Las Vegas earlier this month to unveil the latest addition to its range.

The flagship Find X7 Ultra comes with a camera boasting impressive optical zoom capabilities thanks to its dual periscope lenses. It is also equipped with Qualcomm's latest chipset, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3. However, reports at the time said it won't go on sale outside China, which is a shame because a little competition with Samsung and Apple would only be a good thing for end users.

Perhaps Oppo will reconsider once it gets all its patent-related ducks in a row.

About the Author(s)

Nick Wood

Nick is a freelancer who has covered the global telecoms industry for more than 15 years. Areas of expertise include operator strategies; M&As; and emerging technologies, among others. As a freelancer, Nick has contributed news and features for many well-known industry publications. Before that, he wrote daily news and regular features as deputy editor of Total Telecom. He has a first-class honours degree in journalism from the University of Westminster.

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