Apple Complaint Seeks to Block Nokia Mobile Phone Imports

The legal struggle between Apple and Nokia continues, with Apple filing a Jan. 15 complaint requesting that Nokia be banned from importing phones that allegedly infringe on Apple patents. The two are expected to settle their patent allegations before actually reaching a courtroom.

Nokia and Apple are at it again.

On Jan. 15, Apple filed a complaint against Nokia with the International Trade Commission, requesting that Nokia be banned from importing phones that, Apple alleges, infringe on its patents.

The move follows several back-and-forth lawsuits the manufacturers have filed against each other in the last several months.

"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. "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 the public courts as a next step."

In late December, Nokia filed complaints against Apple with both the ITC and a U.S. District Court in Delaware, alleging that Apple is infringing on seven of its patents related to device construction methods, camera sensor optimization and touch-sensitive screens.

These patents, Nokia said in the Dec. 29 complaint, enable it to "differentiate its products from those of its competitors."

On Dec. 12, Apple had filed a suit of its own, alleging that Nokia infringed on 13 of its patents. "Other companies must compete with us by inventing their own technologies, not just by stealing ours," Bruce Sewell, Apple general counsel and senior vice president, wrote in a statement on the Apple Website.

That suit followed from legal proceedings Nokia initially filed against Apple on Oct. 22, beginning the back-and-forth. In the suit, Nokia alleged that Apple infringed on 10 its patents for GSM, UMTS (Universal Mobile Telecommunications System) and WLAN standards.

Ilkka Rahnasto, vice president of Nokia's legal and intellectual property division, said in a statement Nokia had invested more than $60 billion in R&D in the last two decades, and that the industry was benefiting from Nokia's innovation.

"The basic principle in the mobile industry is that those companies who contribute in technology development to establish standards create intellectual property, which others then need to compensate for," Rahnasto continued in the statement.

"Most intellectual property disputes in the mobile industry tend to drag on for months or years, and the Nokia-Apple case is unlikely to be different," said Strategy Analytics' Mawston. "Patent definitions can be relatively subjective, which often causes lengthy arguments about who or what is correct or incorrect."

However, Mawston said he expects that "Nokia and Apple will come to some form of agreement before any court case takes place, but it will take a while for both parties to thrash out terms that are favorable to all sides."