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Nokia Cross-Licenses Mapping Patents

Finnish cell phone giant Nokia has cross-licensed patents with Trimble, allowing the handset maker to continue its pursuit of wireless mapping applications.

While the deal gives the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Trimble a new audience of cell phone users, it grants Nokia exclusive licensing rights to Trimble's Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS), as well as sublicensing rights.

In return, Trimble gains non-exclusive licensing to Nokia location-based patents.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Location-based services include auto and marine navigation, as well as "local search" enabling a person to locate businesses or information based on your current location.

Nokia said the exclusive deal lets it offer consumers more location-based services while also accelerating adoption of the technology.

"We strongly believe that location-based capabilities and services will be an important element of future mobile communications devices," Kai Oistamo, executive vice president and general manager of mobile phones at Nokia, said in a statement.

The announcement comes just days after Nokia unveiled the N95, a multimedia phone with integrated GPS.

In August, Nokia also made its location-based wishes known when it bought gate5 AG, a privately held German developer of navigation software.

"Location-based devices and services are receiving mass-market acceptance, offering a range of benefits to both consumer and commercial users," Steven Berglund, president and CEO of Trimble, said in a statement.

Berglund added that Trimble is working with Nokia to "incorporate our intellectual property into the most common consumer electronic device -- the mobile phone."

In August, Anssi Vanjoki, Nokia's executive vice president and general manager for multimedia, described navigation and maps as "natural elements to be offered in mobile devices," as internetnews.com reported at the time.

Oistamo said sublicensing the Trimble GPS patents will augment Nokia's 3G and GSM patents.

The Finnish company envisions 15 million personal navigation devices in 2006, up from 8 million in 2005.

Nokia in June announced it would combine with Siemens to create Nokia-Siemens Networks worth $30 billion.

While Nokia has had some recent successes obtaining or licensing patents for mobile services, there is the matter of its long-running spat with Qualcomm over licensing technology required to develop cell phones.

Nokia in August took Qualcomm to court in Delaware, asking it to order the company to license its GSM and 3G technology under "fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms."

Qualcomm had said in an April Security and Exchange Commission filing there was a possibility it may not be able to reach an agreement with Nokia in time before the April 2007 licensing pact expires.