Nokia: Apple Still Violating Our Smartphone Patents

Nokia has filed another complaint against Apple with the International Trade Commission, arguing the iPhone violates its wireless patents.

Nokia has filed another legal complaint against Apple with the U.S. International Trade Commission, accusing its rival of infringing on mobile patents.

"Our latest ITC filing means we now have 46 Nokia patents in suit against Apple, many filed more than 10 years before Apple made its first iPhone," Paul Melin, Nokia's vice president of intellectual property, wrote in a March 29 statement. "Nokia is a leading innovator in technologies needed to build great mobile products and Apple must stop building its products using Nokia's proprietary innovation."

Nokia's current ITC complain centers on seven patents related to multitasking, data synchronization, positioning, use of Bluetooth and calling quality.

Nokia's previous complaints to the ITC argued that Apple was in violation of Section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930, which prohibits the importation of products that infringe on others' technology. In addition to the ITC action, Apple and Nokia have sued and counter-sued over their respective patent portfolios. Nokia claims its purpose is to protect its $60 billion in wireless research and development investments.

The ITC can use Section 337 to ban the importation of goods that violate U.S. patents. Certainly tech companies have found themselves the target of ITC investigations for allegedly running afoul of the statute, often in response to rivals' complaints of patent infringement. Those companies' longstanding traditions of manufacturing their products in other countries, before shipping them to the United States, leave them open to such investigations.

Nokia has a newfound reason to make Apple's life difficult, considering the Finnish manufacturer recently partnered with Microsoft to make the latter's Windows Phone 7 the software platform for its smartphones. Together, the two companies will attempt to challenge both Apple's iPhone and the rising number of Google Android smartphones that currently dominate much of the consumer smartphone market.

Under the terms of the agreement, according to Nokia's publicly released Form 20-F 2010 report, Nokia will leverage its expertise in hardware and design to "help bring Windows Phone to a broader range of price points, market segments and geographies." In addition, the two companies will collaborate on both development and joint marketing initiatives.

However, the partnership also carries some substantial risks.

"If we fail to finalize our partnership with Microsoft or the benefits of that partnership do not materialize as expected, we will have limited our options and more competitive alternatives may not be available to us in a timely manner, if at all," reads one section of the report. "Our expected transition to the Windows Phone platform may prove to be too long to compete in the smartphone market longer term."

In the meantime, Nokia seems interested in continuing its legal battles against its longtime rival.