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Nokia Sues Apple For Smartphone Patent Violations

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

Round two of smartphone wars, after Nokia hits back at Apple with multiple lawsuits for patent violations

Nokia has filed a number of lawsuits against Apple for violating 32 of its patents, in what could lead to more courtroom battles over smartphone technologies.

The Nokia move comes after Apple earlier this week took legal action against Acacia Research Corp and Conversant Intellectual Property Management, accusing them of colluding with Nokia to extract and extort exorbitant unfair revenues.

And this is not the first time that Nokia and Apple have gone toe to toe. Nokia famously sued Apple in 2009 over technologies related to smartphone user interface, power management, antenna and camera. Those lawsuits were finally resolved in 2011 after Apple made a one-off payment to Nokia and agreed to pay the Finnish firm royalties going forward.

Legal cost patent law dollars money hutterstockPatent Troll?

Fast forward five years and Apple and Nokia are once again are heading to the courts. It began after Apple took legal action on Tuesday accusing the Finnish firm of acting like a patent troll. Ouch.

It comes amid a backdrop after subsidiaries of both Acacia and Conversant have previously successfully sued Apple for smartphone patent violations.

To further muddy the waters, Apple filed the lawsuit against Acacia, Conversant and Nokia only one day after Conversant named Boris Teksler as its new chief executive. Teksler was previously Apple’s director of patent licensing and strategy from 2009 to 2013.

“We’ve always been willing to pay a fair price to secure the rights of patents covering technology in our products,” Apple spokesman Josh Rosenstock was quoted as saying by Reuters.

“Unfortunately, Nokia has refused to license their patents on a fair basis and is now using the tactics of a patent troll to attempt to extort money from Apple by applying a royalty rate to Apple’s own inventions they had nothing to do with,” Rosenstock reportedly said.

Patent Protection

But Nokia is not taking the Apple lawsuit lying down and has hit back, filling lawsuits in courts in Germany, and the US District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. Nokia also warned that it is in the process of filing further actions in other jurisdictions.

The lawsuits cover 32 patents for displays, user interfaces, software, antennas, chipsets and video coding.

“Since agreeing a license covering some patents from the Nokia Technologies portfolio in 2011, Apple has declined subsequent offers made by Nokia to license other of its patented inventions which are used by many of Apple’s products,” Nokia said in a statement.

“Through our sustained investment in research and development, Nokia has created or contributed to many of the fundamental technologies used in today’s mobile devices, including Apple products,” said Ilkka Rahnasto, head of Patent Business at Nokia.

“After several years of negotiations trying to reach agreement to cover Apple’s use of these patents, we are now taking action to defend our rights,” he said.

Nokia of course famously withdrew from the smartphone arena after it lost the market to the likes of Samsung and Apple, despite it being the defacto mobile champion for many years prior to that. Nokia sold its entire handset operation to Microsoft in 2014 to focus on its telecommunications networking equipment business.

In May this year Microsoft sold the basic Nokia phone manufacturing business to Foxconn, with HMD acquiring the licensing rights to the Nokia brand for phones and tablets for ten years.

Two new basic Nokia mobile phones were introduced earlier this month by HMD, with new smartphones due in 2017.

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