When Nokia completes the sale of its telephone business to Microsoft, a transfer of its substantial patent portfolio will be conspicuously absent from the deal. Microsoft got licenses to those patents but won’t buy the patents themselves. That situation immediately led to speculation that Nokia was interested in doing standalone patent-licensing when it would be mostly immune to counterattack.

As Nokia’s management must surely have been aware, creating businesses that do nothing but license patents has become controversial. Whatever Nokia does, it isn’t just going to become the chatter of the Internet—in Europe, antitrust regulators are watching as well. EU antitrust chief Joaquin Almunia said in a speech on Monday that Nokia had better think twice before trying to “extract higher returns” from its patents, according to an AP report. “In other words…behave like a patent troll, or to use a more polite phrase, a patent assertion entity.”     

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