Nokia Files New Patent Complaint Against Apple
Nokia on Tuesday announced it has filed a complaint with the United States International Trade Commission (USITC), claiming that virtually all of Apple's products infringe upon its patents -- widening earlier claims that singled out the iPhone.
The USITC is an independent, non-partisan, quasi-judicial federal agency of the United States that provides trade expertise to both the legislative and executive branches and can take actions against certain unfair trade practices, including patent and copyright infringement.
In total, Nokia accuses Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) of violating seven distinct patents in areas such as user interface, as well as camera, antenna and power management technologies. It said Apple violates these patents in the iPhone and iPod and its MacBook computers.
Nokia claims these technologies cover the user experiences, lower manufacturing costs, and make for smaller devices with longer battery life.
"Nokia has been the leading developer of many key technologies in small electronic devices," Paul Melin, Nokia's general manager for patent licensing, said in a statement. "This action is about protecting the results of such pioneering development."
Apple is closed for the holiday and did not return a call seeking comment.
The current state of contention between the two mobile players represents quite a change for Nokia. Just a year ago, CEO Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo had high praise for the iPhone.
"Whether I like it or not, I definitely admire the people who make it happen," Kallasvuo said during an event in the Silicon Valley. "I give Apple a lot of credit and thank Apple. They have done a service to the community. We have a credible competitor."
But in October, Nokia, the world's largest mobile phone maker, sued Apple, claiming infringement of 10 patents and seeking back payment of royalties on the 33.7 million iPhones Apple has sold since it introduced the phone in 2007.
Apple countersued earlier this month, claiming Nokia stole technology from 13 of its own patents. The suit also alleged that Nokia was attempting to obtain more money from Apple than from other companies, in addition to the rights to the iPhone maker's intellectual property.
"In dealing with Apple, Nokia has sought to gain an unjust competitive advantage over Apple by charging unwarranted fees to use patents that allegedly cover industry compatibility standards and by seeking to obtain access to Apple's intellectual property," Apple said in its counterclaim.
Avi Greengart, research director for consumer devices with Current Analysis, would not comment on the patent legalities, but said that this sort of wrestling goes on constantly.
"IP lawsuits are common. These devices are predicated on patents and application of those patents, so it is not unusual," he told InternetNews.com. "We've seen literally every vendor involved in some sort of IP fight or another over time: Nokia, Apple, Samsung, LG, RIM. So my only comment is this is not specific to Apple or Nokia."