Not everyone is happy about the deal struck between Microsoft and Nokia, and the latest vocal opponents are manufacturers in Korea. The Korea Electronics Association has submitted a petition to the Fair Trade Commission citing concerns about Microsoft dominating the market by holding key patents, and being able to set pricing for the market.
The petition was file on 7 March with the claim that “Microsoft is likely to keep Korean manufacturers in check by means of Nokia’s patents”. While not necessarily grounded entirely in fact, the concerns seem to stem from the idea that Nokia could become something of a patent troll.
A lawyer for the Korea Electronics Association, Hwang Eun-jeong, explained “As a mobile phone maker, Nokia rarely exercised its patent rights because of its cross-licensing with Samsung Electronics, Apple and the like, but now it can launch patent lawsuits or demand an increase in royalties without any limitation. At the same time, Microsoft can expand its mobile phone business while keeping Samsung and Apple at bay by utilizing Nokia as a sort of cannon fodder.”
These are much the same concerns that have already been expressed in other parts of the world, including China. But what some people see as a threat or an unfair advantage, others see as healthy competition.
It’s not quite clear where the route ahead lies, but the Korea Electronics Association suggests that “The FTC needs to look deeply into the possible impact from the acquisition. We also suggested an approval on condition of Microsoft’s acquisition of not only the business unit but also its patents.”