Daimler asks EU antitrust regulators to probe Nokia patents

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - German carmaker Daimler has complained to EU antitrust regulators about Nokia patents essential to car communications, a move underlining the tensions between tech companies and the car industry on the use of key technologies.

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Tech companies and mobile telecoms providers are playing an increasingly important role in the auto industry, with their technologies used in navigation systems, vehicle-to-vehicle communication and self-driving cars.

Daimler confirmed that it had lodged a complaint with the European Commission against Nokia.

“We want clarification on how essential patents for telecommunications standards are to be licensed in the automotive industry,” the car maker said in a statement on Saturday. “Fair and non-discriminatory access to these standards for all users of the essential patents for telecommunications standards is a key prerequisite for the development of new products and services for connected driving.”

The European Commission confirmed receipt of Daimler’s complaint.

Nokia said Daimler was seeking to side-step taking out licenses.

“Though we offer a wide range of options for automakers, including through their tier 1 suppliers, Daimler has resisted taking a license to the Nokia inventions it is already using,” Nokia spokesman Mark Durrant said.

“Daimler’s allegations in its complaint to the EU are simply the latest in a long series of actions to avoid taking a license,” he said.

Nokia has a highly profitable patent business, a legacy of its history as the market-leading mobile phone maker.

Patent disputes between Apple, Samsung, Qualcomm and others have triggered mutual lawsuits worldwide in the last decade, with analysts saying the patent war could next move to the auto industry.

Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; Editing by Jan Harvey and Catherine Evans