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Multimedia patent licensing: in conversation with Nokia’s Clay Gaetje

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Managing IP sat down with Clay Gaetje of Nokia’s New Segments Licensing team to discuss the wider technological benefits to be found in a robust licensing programme

MIP: What constitutes a sustainable licensing programme?

Clay: There are of course many factors which make up a sustainable licensing programme. But it involves more than just anticipating the evolution of technology and global markets.

You also need to keep tabs on the progression of the licensing environment in the countries where your licensees operate. Your patent portfolio has to be proactively developed in anticipation of that progression.

MIP: What are the key global licensing jurisdictions?

Clay: If you’re talking about streaming video, then the US is by far the largest market. But the current legal landscape in the US makes licensing more challenging than ever before. It becomes even more complicated as cutting-edge technology moves from consumer-level hardware to software and back-end servers.

Fortunately, although the US is the largest market, the largest revenue growth in streaming video is coming internationally. This is particularly true for the major players in that vertical, and we see that reflected in other multimedia verticals as well.

As a multinational company with our headquarters in Finland, Nokia has maintained and developed its patent protection in many countries, covering both the high-revenue and high-growth areas. Lots of these high-growth jurisdictions such as Canada, Germany and Brazil have robust judicial systems with experienced judges.

I’m pleased to say we are well-positioned for success in our multimedia licensing programme despite the challenges presented in the US market.

MIP: You mentioned other multimedia verticals. Can you expand on that?

Clay: Of course. Video content makes up about 80% of all internet traffic. That content obviously powers direct-to-consumer video on demand platforms, as well as free and paid online linear television. But video streaming now bleeds into an almost endless list of other services, such as social media, sports, gaming, gambling, medicine and education. 

MIP: How important is video to Nokia’s patent licensing programme?

Clay: In the multimedia space, video is very important. But, in addition to Nokia’s many contributions to the development and improvement of video streaming itself, we also tackled and solved many technical problems around the delivery of that video. Edge caching; storage management; content delivery; the creation, capture and encoding of video; user interface; recommendations—these are just a few of the areas where Nokia advanced the technology. And we have patents reflecting those innovations in the US, in Europe, and around the world.

MIP: What about when things go wrong? How does Nokia approach patent disputes?

Clay: We look for the most efficient way to reach agreement with implementers, which in the vast majority of cases is amicable negotiations. However, when a party doesn’t negotiate in good faith, we sometimes have to resort to litigation as a necessary last resort. Even when litigation is necessary, we still look for efficient ways to resolve these disputes, and encourage infringers to engage or re-engage in good faith negotiations.

MIP: How does Nokia’s approach to litigation encourage that?

Clay: More certainty in the costs and outcomes of a litigation forum generally helps not only litigation, but licensing discussions as well.

We’ve had good results in Europe and Brazil, and this has helped us drive consistency across our other licensing programmes. The foresight to maintain and develop an international patent portfolio affords us access to these more consistent forums.

Despite reticence from some corners, we believe the Unified Patent Court has the promise to be a new cost-effective forum for both parties to resolve disputes. This gives us more confidence in being able to strike amicable agreements with our partners, so actually resorting to litigation becomes increasingly rare.

Find out how patents are powering consumer electronics and video services at

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