Smartphone hammer! European manufacturer stops sales in German online store

HMD Global, manufacturer of the well-known Nokia smartphones since 2016, is currently in a patent dispute. Now the company has stopped selling its devices on its own online store.

If you take a look around Nokia’s online store, you’ll find a yawning void. There are just two models listed in the smartphone section – the Nokia G21 and the Nokia G11. Older smartphones do not appear at all. The reason for this is a patent dispute between HMD Global and the company VoiceAgeEVS LLC.

What happened.

As the colleagues from “heise online” report, the patent dispute is about the rights to the EVS technology (Enhanced Voice Services). This is an audio codec that significantly increases voice quality, for example by covering a higher frequency range than HD Voice, minimizing noise and making voices sound more natural. However, EVS only works when two smartphone users make calls to each other via VoLTE, i.e. via the LTE network. The rights to the technology are held by VoiceAgeEVS LLC, a company based in both Germany and the U.S., together with the investment group Fortress.

VoiceAgeEVS LLC has already sued several smartphone manufacturers for infringement of patents on the technology in recent years. In addition to HMD Global, these included Apple, TCL and Lenovo. Apple has since reached an out-of-court settlement, but HMD Global has decided to go to trial. However, the manufacturer VoiceAgeEVS LLC lost in the Mannheim court last summer. This was followed by enforcement proceedings in Germany in December 2021.

HMD Global stops smartphone sales on its website

At atechbook’s request, HMD Global confirms that it is a defendant in several court cases filed by VoiceAgeEVS LLC in various jurisdictions, including Germany. The manufacturer has already filed an appeal against the enforcement proceedings issued three months ago. At the same time, the company has decided to stop selling the affected smartphones for the time being, to be on the safe side.

“We are disappointed with the decision,” HMD Global writes to us. However, it said it has made sure that none of the Nokia smartphones offered and sold in Germany will support EVS anymore. “We will continue to sell Nokia Phones in Germany. HMD remains confident in the outcome of the litigation and will continue to offer devices, accessories and services to consumers in line with our slogan ‘Love it, Trust it, Keep it’.”

At the same time, the manufacturer emphasizes that they have only taken the smartphones off their website, not out of stores. And indeed, models like the Nokia X20, the G50 or the Nokia 3.4 are still available via Amazon, Media Markt or Saturn, for example.

Sales stop of Nokia smartphones also in other countries

Not only in Germany, but also in countries such as France and Switzerland, HMD Global has decided to temporarily stop sales of Nokia smartphones on its website. However, the devices are still listed in Austria and the US.

It is unclear what the consequences of the Nokia smartphone sales halt in its own store will be for the company. It is also open how long the legal dispute will drag on. Whether the first defeat in court already means the end for Nokia in Germany, however, must be doubted. After all, such proceedings usually result in an agreement in the end.

Sources

  • heise online
  • Statement from HMD Global

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