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Apple Found To Infringe Nokia And Sony Patents

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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iPhone found to infringe patents owned by intellectual property firm MMI,

Apple has been found to have infringed three patents belonging to an intellectual property company partly owned by Sony and Nokia.

MobileMedia Ideas LLC (MMI) was formed in 2010 by Nokia, Sony and MPEF LA for the purposes of managing their patents. Nokia and Sony own 25 percent of the company each, but do not directly control licensing or litigation.

The jury in Delaware ruled that the iPhone infringed two patents belonging to Nokia and one to Sony, but did not rule on how much Apple should pay MMI, however CEO Larry Horn told the Wall Street Journal that the company could collect “substantial damages.”

MMI Apple patent dispute

Horn added that he hoped the ruling would encourage Apple to license the technologies covered by MMI’s patents.

The Apple dispute is the first MMI case to go to trial, but the organisation has lawsuits against RIM and HTC in the pipeline. The case is being viewed as part of a growing trend which sees technology companies form patent holding firms for the sole purpose of pursuing license fees and damages.

This protects patent firms from any negative publicity resulting from an aggressive pursuit and minimises the threat of countersuits. Apple, Microsoft, RIM, Ericsson and Sony formed licensing firm Rockstar Consortium to manage 4,000 patents acquired collectively from bankrupt Nortel Networks.

Apple has spent a lot of its energy enforcing its patents by itself though, having agreed licensing deals with HTC and winning £662 million in damages from Samsung in recent months. Apple and Samsung are due to go to trial again in 2014 as part of a separate lawsuit.

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