Nokia: Pick Apple’s SIM standard, no patents for you

Nokia(s NOK) is escalating its objections to Apple(s AAPL) leading the way on how future SIM cards for our mobile devices are designed. In an official statement issued Wednesday in advance of a hearing at Europe’s telecom standards organization, the Finnish handset maker warned that it would not license any of its own patents it believes are necessary to an Apple-designed nano-SIM card, which Apple has offered to let others use royalty-free.
Nokia says Apple is skirting the previously agreed-upon standards-setting process and acting in its own interests, rather than that of all members of the European Telecommunications Standards Institute:

“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,” said Henry Tirri, executive vice president and chief technology officer at Nokia. “We urge ETSI members to resist this behaviour, which is not in the best interests of the industry or, more importantly, of consumers.”

The Verge has Nokia’s full statement.
The ETSI is currently evaluating proposals for the design of future, smaller SIM cards. Apple has proposed one design, and Nokia, RIM(s RIMM) and Motorola(s MMI) have collaborated on another proposed design. Apple has said if its nano-SIM card is selected for use of other ETSI members, it won’t require any royalty payments in return.
In the statement, Nokia gets a little huffy over the prospect of Apple prevailing, but says its objection is not about intellectual property; instead, it’s about the ETSI rules.

However, 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. Nokia holds more than 50 patent families covering SIM related technologies that we believe may be essential to Apple’s proposal. We have informed ETSI that, if Apple’s proposal is selected, then Nokia will not license its relevant patents to that standard.

The company is also saying that Apple doesn’t even have the proper patents to even offer the design to others in the first place, and that Nokia holds some of the ones relevant to Apple’s proposed design.
Nokia’s decision to withhold any of its patents that are “essential” to Apple’s SIM design, should it be selected, would make life difficult for all ETSI members, not just Apple, when it comes to deciding on a future SIM card design. It’s not clear what aspect of Apple’s design Nokia thinks would be bad for consumers. Either way, a prolonged standards battle over an important piece of mobile technology doesn’t sound that great for consumers either.
The ETSI hearing that will decide this battle is coming up later this week.
Photo courtesy of Flickr user peretzp