Apple Countersues Nokia In Patent Fight

Peter Judge has been involved with tech B2B publishing in the UK for many years, working at Ziff-Davis, ZDNet, IDG and Reed. His main interests are networking security, mobility and cloud

As eWEEK Europe predicted earlier this year, Nokia’s patent suit against Apple was just the first stage in a likely war

Apple is suing Nokia over 13 patents, two months after Nokia alleged that Apple was not paying fairly for use of basic mobile phone technology patented by Nokia.

The Apple suit, predicted in October by eWEEK Europe, is not fully published yet but will likely involve user interface technologies such as multi-touch, and functions around content delivery and app stores.

In October, Nokia sued Apple for allegedly infringing wireless connection patents for GSM, UMTS and wireless LAN, but most observers believe the suit was merely the latest stage in negotiation over patent rights.

Apple entered the mobile phone market using its user interface and media ability, along with wireless technology developed elsewhere, including, in the most recent edition, 3G. The company’s lawyers are understood to have been in negotiation over terms for this since well before the product’s launch.

Seeing the iPhone’s success, Nokia and other phone makers have been adding touch screens, as well as the Ovi app store and media abilities to phones, in the hope of making an iPhone killer, so a countersuit was always a possibility

“Other companies must compete with us by inventing their own technologies, not just by stealing ours,” said Apple’s general counsel Bruce Sewell in a statement.

Nokia has yet to respond to calls to discuss the Apple suit, but expressed itself in very similar terms when it made its suit against Apple: “The basic principle in the mobile industry is that those companies who contribute in technology development to establish standards create intellectual property, which others then need to compensate for,” said the company’s chief lawyer in October.

Nokia still dominates the phone market, but its performance in smartphones has been declining, while Apple’s iPhone is becoming ever more popular. Although Apple lost its status as top gadget to the Motorola Driod in a Time magazine review, iPhones in the UK are likely to sell in larger volumes as they have started to go downmarket, selling for lower prices at Tesco. Other operators that will be selling the iPhone in the UK in 2010 include Orange and Vodafone.

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