Apple has reportedly sent a letter to the other members of ETSI (the European Telecommunications Standards Institute) assuring them that, should they ratify its proposed nano-SIM standard, it'll license all necessary Apple patents out to them without asking for royalties. All Apple would want is reciprocity: any patents essential to nano-SIMs held by other companies would have to be licensed in kind.
The document, dated March 19th and apparently authored by a senior Apple lawyer, comes from a source described as "perfectly reliable" by Florian Mueller. Its sentiment of assurance makes a lot of sense to us in light of Apple's position: the company's alone against a cabal of Nokia, Motorola, and RIM, all of whom are, to put it mildly, wary of giving Cupertino too much influence. Nokia has expressed a number of technical reservations about Apple's standard, but those are arguably secondary to the issue of Apple holding all the intellectual property cards with respect to its nano-SIM proposal. Tim Cook and his team stand a much better chance of convincing ETSI that theirs is the right path to follow if they clear it of any patent-related obstacles, and that seems to be exactly what the company is trying to do.
ETSI will be meeting later this week, at the loftily titled Smart Card Platform Plenary meeting in France, to discuss this very issue, making Apple's reported intervention a timely shot across the bow of Nokia's competing standard. Whatever happens, the outlook for Micro SIMs hanging around as a long-term standard isn't great.