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Apple, Nokia in legal battle over patents

In this monthly Best of Nordics feature, S&P Global Market Intelligence provides a roundup of recent market developments in Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland and Iceland.

TOP NEWS

* Nokia Corp. upped the ante Dec. 21 in a growing conflict with Apple Inc., filing lawsuits in the U.S. and Europe alleging that Apple had violated the Finnish cellphone maker's patents in creating its mobile devices. The suits, which allege that Apple is infringing on 32 of the phone maker's patents, came a day after Apple filed a suit of its own accusing several patent-holding companies of conspiring with Nokia to fix prices for the technology. Nokia argued that after agreeing to license the company's technology in 2011, Apple has since refused to work with Nokia to settle pricing and terms.

* Apple removed the products of Nokia unit Withings from its stores as a result of a legal dispute with the Finnish tech giant, Recode reported Dec. 24. Withings makes Wi-Fi scales and other digital health and fitness gear.

M&A

* Opera Software ASA sold a controlling stake in Opera TV, an independent cloud and embedded software developer for over-the-top deployment, to Moore Frères & Co., an investment run by former Viacom Inc. executives, Advanced Television reported Dec. 20. The acquisition will allow Opera TV and Moore Frères, together, to become a key OTT enabler in the global TV industry. After deal completion, Aneesh Rajaram, who was general manager of the Opera TV business unit, will take over as Opera TV's CEO.

* Modern Times Group completed the sale of its free-TV broadcasting and production subsidiaries in Ghana and Nigeria to Econet Media Group, the Swedish company said on Dec. 16. The divestment is in line with MTG's efforts to refocus its business from traditional broadcasting to digital video entertainment. Meanwhile, MTG's sale of its free-TV broadcasting business in Tanzania to Econet Media is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2017, subject to regulatory approval in the country.

* Telenor ASA held discussions with Idea Cellular about a cashless sale of its Indian operations, The Economic Times of India reported Dec. 16, citing a person familiar with the matter. It has been proposed in the talks that the Indian mobile operator will assume all liabilities and assets of Telenor India, but without an actual payout.

* Spotify Ltd. canceled its plans to acquire rival SoundCloud due to its targeted IPO in 2017, the Financial Times of London reported Dec. 8, citing an unnamed source. The Swedish firm stepped back to avoid hindering its flotation plan with the costs and licensing agreements that would be required to buy SoundCloud.

INTERNET, OTT AND MOBILE

* Amazon.com Inc. made its Prime Video service available in more than 200 countries and territories, according to a Dec. 14 news release. The video-on-demand service offers new shows like "The Grand Tour," as well as other Amazon original series. The content will be available in English, with options for subtitled and dubbed versions in four European languages.

* Telemach Montenegro and Telenor rolled out streaming service HBO Go in Montenegro, Telecompaper reported Dec. 5. Platform users will be able to watch movies, documentaries, cartoons and selected original productions from Time Warner Inc.'s HBO.

REGULATORY AND LEGAL

* EU member states cannot force telcos and internet firms to store collected data, the Court of Justice of the European Union said in its Dec. 21 published ruling. The case stems from complaints by Tele2 Sweden against the Swedish Post and Telecom Authority, and from a group led by British lawmaker Tom Watson against the U.K. Secretary of State for the Home Department. The CJEU said general and indiscriminate retention of data curtails users' right to privacy. The court, however, does not prohibit targeted retention of data for crime prevention purposes, provided that the data to be collected is limited to what is "strictly necessary."