With its $7.2 billion handset deal with Microsoft officially closing in April, Envision IP reviewed Nokia’s recent US patent application filings to understand its current R&D focus.
Post the deal with Microsoft, Nokia has emerged as a streamlined company that is centered around three business units:
(1) Networks (formerly NSN), which is referred to as Mobile Broadband and Global Services. Nokia acquired full ownership of Nokia Siemens Networks in August 2013, shortly before the Microsoft deal was announced a month later in September. The Networks business focuses on products and services for mobile telecommunications and networking infrastructure.
(2) HERE is Nokia’s mapping and location services business. HERE is a cloud-based mapping platform, and Nokia sells and licenses mapping content, along with navigation and location services to third-parties.
(3) Technologies is Nokia’s patent licensing unit. While Nokia transferred its design patent portfolio to Microsoft as past of the handset deal, Nokia retained ownership of its utility patent portfolio. We expect Nokia to generate increasing revenues from its Technologies unit as the company is now focusing on licensing and monetizing its immense patent portfolio. By exiting the handset business, the risk of counter-suit is diminished as true Nokia devices exit the marketplace. We believe Nokia is well positioned to aggressively enforce its patents going forward.
Regarding its current patenting focus, Envision IP identified 68 published US patent applications* that were filed by Nokia in 2014. The patenting activity strongly mirrors its new business units, as the vast majority of the recent filings are related to its Networks and HERE technologies.
38 of these filings are assigned to Nokia Corporation, and relate to internet technologies for personalized content delivery, advertising, and browsing. These filings also include custom map/route generation and location determining technologies. We also identified two filings related to audio hardware for mobile devices.
The remaining 30 filings are assigned to Nokia Solutions and Networks Oy and Nokia Siemens Networks Oy. These filings relate to mobile telecommunications technologies, and cover various aspects of transmission timing, handoffs, network sharing, and carrier aggregation.
This brief snapshot of filings from the early part of 2014 indicates that Nokia has shifted away from its handset focus. We did not identify any 2014 filings related to display technologies, device casings and hardware, or physical input technologies. While some recent filings include software-based user interfaces and antenna technologies, these are logically related to Nokia’s existing business lines.
In summary, it appears that Nokia is continuing its tradition of innovation and patenting its proprietary technologies. The deal with Microsoft has not slowed Nokia’s patenting efforts; it has simply shifted the company’s focus to its new core business lines.
*US patent applications publish 18 months after the earliest claimed priority date. There may be other pending patent applications filed by Nokia in 2014 that are not publicly available.