Nokia throws more patent disputes at Apple as two companies duke it out

Mar 30, 2011

Nokia and Apple are not happy with each other.

The two companies have been throwing legal punches back and forth for a while now, and Nokia (NOK) added a few more blows this week by filing seven more patent disputes with the U.S. International Trade Commission, a government body that has the ability to rule on patents and block imports, according to Pocket Gamer.

Nokia just had its last batch of patent infringement charges tossed by the ITC, but that hasn’t slowed the company down, obviously. Here’s a rundown of what the patents dispute from Pocket Gamer’s report:

Nokia’s latest complaint claims products in Apple’s range of iPhones, iPods, iPads and Macs infringe on seven patents held by the Finnish firm, specifically relating to areas of multi-tasking, data synchronisation, positioning, call quality and the employment of Bluetooth accessories.

According to Nokia, that makes 46(!) patents the company is claiming Apple (AAPL) is infringing. Nokia’s Vice President of Intellectual Property, Paul Melin, said many of the patents the company is disputing were in place 10 years before Apple first launched the iPhone, which started all this hullabaloo.

Nokia claims it has invested €43 billion in mobile phone technology in the last 20 years, and that Apple is stepping on its innovation. And Nokia hasn’t been doing well — its market share has been declining in recent years despite it being the biggest phone manufacturer in the world. The company recently abandoned creating new phones with its Symbian operating system in favor of adopting Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 OS. There’s a lot at stake here.

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Apple and Nokia’s big dance has been going on since 2009, according to a story from The Digital Home. During that year, Nokia slapped Apple with a lawsuit over 10 patents in the U.S. District Court of Delaware. So Apple responded a few months later with its own lawsuit — upping the ante by claiming Nokia violated 13 Apple patents. Then Nokia went to the ITC toward the end of 2009 and put seven alleged patent violations in that suit.

The ITC got a complaint from Apple next, asking the body to block imports of Nokia devices (the company is Finnish). Apple claimed Nokia was violating things all over the place, including patents, copyrights and trademarks. In 2010, Nokia filed more patent lawsuits in Wisconsin — this time regarding “enhanced speech and data transmission” — and in Germany, the U.K. and the Netherlands over 13 other patents.

Needless to say, this whole mess isn’t anywhere near completion. Both companies have a lot to lose here, so don’t expect a sweeping mandate kicking Apple out of Europe or banning Nokia from Delaware — eventually, Nokia and Apple will likely just settle the whole thing. But it’ll be a while, and we’ll probably see more legal fisticuffs before the end.

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Phil Hornshaw

Phil Hornshaw is a freelance writer, editor and author living in Los Angeles, dividing his time between playing video games, playing video games on his cell phone, and writing about playing video games. He’s also the co-author of So You Created a Wormhole: The Time Traveler’s Guide to Time Travel, which attempts to mix time travel pop culture with some semblance of science, as well as tips on the appropriate means of riding dinosaurs. Check out his profile.

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