Inevitably, the automobile is approaching the world of telephony and IT, with the risk of using technologies that could pose a problem in terms of intellectual protection and patents. Nokia, in fact, is currently suing Mercedes for use which is no longer authorized today.
Concretely, manufacturers such as Mercedes call on equipment manufacturers (Continental, Bosch) to manage patent problems, and compensate owners if necessary. Except that for some of these patents, the rules have recently changed: a company called Avanci takes care of centralizing all requests from manufacturers for the use of technologies from various specialized companies (such as Nokia). The aim was to simplify the process of acquiring technologies by manufacturers, by setting fixed prices, but also to ensure greater income for patent holders. For example, brands have to pay around fifteen dollars to have a 4G license per car.
Problem: Mercedes has not joined the centralization program and wants to continue to call on equipment manufacturers to individually negotiate the prices of access to patents and technologies, obviously at more advantageous prices.
A first judgment was rendered in August and ruled in favor of Nokia, which would thus be able to suspend sales of all Mercedes cars concerned (in other words, a large part of the catalog). But this would have a cost for Nokia in the context of a parallel affair: the suspension of sales would cost the Finnish firm between 5 and 7 billion dollars. Good news for Mercedes, therefore, since Nokia probably does not have the means to afford such a finality, especially since an amicable agreement with Mercedes would be preferable.
The case is not over, however: yesterday, a new judgment in Germany ruled in favor of Sharp (another specialized company), which could also ask for a ban on sales, against … 5.5 million euros . The situation is no longer the same for Mercedes.
Nokia continues to claim that Mercedes thus uses its technologies without agreement and without going through the now traditional route of centralization, while specifying that "reasonable" offers had been made to the German brand.
Now Mercedes will be appealing, and if the appeal is lost, Nokia, Sharp and others may well enforce the suspension of sales of the Star models. Other judgments are in any case expected by the end of the year.