Nokia launched a new legal complaint against Apple May 7, alleging that the iPad and iPhone violate five of its patents. This is the newest round in a battle that has seen the two companies fire off multiple patent-infringement suits over the past year, and the latest twist suggests there will be no firm and speedy resolution. In addition to its battle with Nokia, Apple has alleged that HTC violated several of its patents, although HTC's recent intellectual property agreement with Microsoft gives the manufacturer more legal ammunition with which to fight the complaint. Nokia and Apple have issued similar language claiming they pioneered certain smartphone-related innovations first.
Nokia launched the next round in its lengthy legal battle against Apple May
7, with a new lawsuit alleging that Apple's iPad and iPhone infringe on five of
its patents. This newest action suggests that the two companies will remain
locked in acrimony for some time to come, short of an out-of-court settlement
or similar backroom negotiation, even as Apple moves to accuse other
manufacturers of alleged patent violations.
"The patents in question relate to technologies for enhanced speech and
data transmission, using positioning data in applications and innovations in
antenna configurations that improve performance and save space, allowing
smaller and more compact devices," Nokia
said in a May 7 news release about the complaint,
which was filed in
Federal District Court in the Western District of Wisconsin. "These
patented innovations are important to Nokia's success as they allow improved
product performance and design."
By its own estimation, Nokia has spent around $50 billion over the
past 20 years to build its product portfolio, which includes 11,000 patent
"Nokia has been the leading developer of many key technologies in
mobile devices," said Paul Melin, general manager of patent licensing for
Nokia. "We have taken this step to protect the results of our pioneering
development and to put an end to continued unlawful use of Nokia's innovation."
Nokia originally began seeking royalties on its patents from Apple in May
2009. When Apple reportedly refused to negotiate, the companies began a series
of legal claims and counter-claims. Nokia filed a complaint against Apple on
Oct. 22 alleging violation of 10 patents for GSM, WLAN and UMTS (Universal
Mobile Telecommunications System) standards; Apple fired its own broadside on
Dec. 12, accusing Nokia of 13 patent violations. Its blood up, Nokia on Dec. 29
patent infringement lawsuits against Apple
with both the U.S. District Court in
Delaware and the International Trade Commission.
Apple then filed its own complaint with the International Trade Commission
on Jan. 15, claiming that the "sale of certain mobile communications and
computer devices and components" infringes on nine Apple patents.
"Legal claims followed by multiple counterclaims are commonplace, and they
can drag out the legal process for some time," Neil Mawston, an analyst
with Strategy Analytics, told eWEEK in January. "It seems Nokia and Apple
have been unable to agree on licensing terms in private over the past few
months, so both firms have resorted to legal action in public courts as a next
Apple has also sued HTC over patent
infringement, alleging violations of 20 patents related to the iPhone's
interface, architecture and hardware. In a March statement about that suit, Apple CEO
Steve Jobs said, "We think competition is healthy, but competitors should
create their original technology, not steal ours." Earlier, other Apple
executives used similar language to describe the Nokia suit.
HTC plans to vigorously contest the suit.
On April 27, the manufacturer entered into an IP (intellectual property)
agreement with Microsoft
to license the latter's patented technology for use in its smartphones running
The move could give HTC
substantial leverage in its Apple fight.
In theory, Nokia could cut a similar IP agreement with a software or
hardware manufacturer to help limit Apple's complaints. But the expansion of
its Apple target list to include the iPad implies a strategy based on opening
as many legal fronts as possible. That aggression, combined with the
lengthening history of legal entanglement between the two companies, suggests
the conflict will not be over any time soon.