Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Nokia hits Apple with latest patent complaint

he legal back-and-forth between Nokia and Apple over patents, and who might be abusing them, continued Tuesday as Nokia lodged a complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission.

In its complaint to the USITC, the Finnish company alleges that Apple infringes seven Nokia patents "in virtually all of its mobile phones, portable music players, and computers."

The alleged patent infringement is connected to key features in Apple products including user interface, camera, antenna, and power management technologies. Their value to Nokia, the company says, comes in allowing better user experience, lower manufacturing costs, smaller size, and longer battery life for Nokia products.

In October, Nokia filed a lawsuit against Apple in U.S. District Court in Delaware regarding 10 patents related to wireless handsets, which Nokia says Apple has refused to license. Every iPhone model since the original, introduced in 2007, infringes on those patents, Nokia has charged.

Apple filed a countersuit earlier this month, charging Nokia with infringing 13 Apple patents related to the iPhone.

"While our litigation in Delaware is about Apple's attempt to free-ride on the back of Nokia investment in wireless standards, the ITC case filed today is about Apple's practice of building its business on Nokia's proprietary innovation," Paul Melin, general manager of patent licensing at Nokia, said in a statement.

"Nokia has been the leading developer of many key technologies in small electronic devices," Melin said. "This action [Tuesday's complaint to the USITC] is about protecting the results of such pioneering development."

Apple was not immediately available to comment on Nokia's filing with the U.S. International Trade Commission. The USITC is an independent federal agency that looks at issues including unfair trade practices involving patent, trademark, and copyright infringement.

Nokia says that over the past two decades it has spent some 40 billion euros ($57.5 billion) on R&D and has amassed "one of the wireless industry's strongest and broadest IPR portfolios, with over 11,000 patent families."

In November, research firm Strategy Analytics reported that Apple had surpassed Nokia in quarterly mobile phone profits, bringing in $1.6 billion from the iPhone, compared with Nokia's $1.1 billion in cell phone profits.