Nokia looks for BlackBerry ban after court win

NOKIA has won a significant victory over the company that makes BlackBerry smartphones, the Finnish firm revealed yesterday, with a court deciding that its patented Wi-Fi technology was being used without permission.

Research in Motion (RIM) now faces the prospect of having to change the technology used in its devices or pay fees to Nokia. In legal filings revealing the results of the Swedish arbitration ruling, Nokia yesterday outlined plans to block sales of BlackBerry smartphones in the UK, US and Canada via the courts.

The Swedish arbitrator does not have the power to ban sales of BlackBerry handsets, but its decision could set an important precedent in other courts.

All of RIM’s handsets use Nokia’s patented Wi-Fi technology, the tribunal said, after it was chosen by both companies as an independent party.

The dispute centred on the terms of an agreement signed between Nokia and RIM in 2003, which allowed Nokia’s cellular technology to be used in BlackBerry handsets. RIM had argued that the licence should extend to Wi-Fi, while Nokia and the arbitrator disagreed.

The decision is the latest blow to beleaguered RIM, which has seen sales of its once-dominant smartphones drop in recent months. Figures released this week showed that its share of UK smartphone sales has more than halved in the last year, as it has lost out to Apple’s iPhone and handsets running Google’s Android software, such as Samsung’s Galaxy SIII.

The developments will come as a boost to Nokia, which may see its warchest of patents as an extra source of revenue as it tries to turn around its billion-dollar losses. The firm is outwardly confident of a revival in its smartphone business but is burning through its cash pile.