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Nokia acknowledges nano-SIM decision, now says it's 'prepared' to license essential patents

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Competing 4FF cards
Competing 4FF cards

Nokia had been waging the loudest opposition in recent months to Apple's nano-SIM proposal, a mild evolution of the micro-SIM currently found in the iPhone 4 and 4S (among others). Nokia, jointly with Motorola and RIM, had been proposing a more radical thinking of the SIM card that would be smaller, allow for easy removal with a fingernail, and allegedly met an ETSI guideline that the nano-SIM not be able to get irrecoverably jammed in a micro-SIM slot. Rhetoric became so heated, in fact, that Nokia warned that it wouldn't license essential patents if ETSI selected Apple's design.

That language has changed today, though: Nokia now says that it will license any essential patents to the standardized 4FF under FRAND terms, meaning any OEM will be able to use or make nano-SIM cards without fear that Nokia will deny licensing and threaten an injunction. That's not to say Nokia's happy — it still calls Apple's card "technically inferior and not suitable for a number of applications."

Here's Nokia's full statement:

Nokia continues to believe that the selected nano-SIM proposal is technically inferior and not suitable for a number of applications, but the ETSI Smart Card Platform Technical Committee has now made its decision. Nokia believes that the existing micro-SIM (3FF) will continue to be a preferred option for many manufacturers and devices and so ultimately the market will decide whether 4FF is widely adopted.

As Nokia believes that ETSI has taken steps to address Nokia's original concerns over the standardization process, we have advised ETSI that we are prepared to license any Nokia patents which are essential to implement the standard, on FRAND terms.

Separately, a Nokia spokesman tells us that he "believes" the selected design was Apple's — not the Motorola-RIM compromise proposed several weeks ago that included an additional notch for so-called "push-push" designs. If true, this means that it'll be more difficult to design nano-SIM phones that use slots to hold the card rather than a tray, but we're still looking for confirmation. More on this as it develops.