Apple iPad Halo Effect Under Threat From Nokia Patents


In a move that could threaten some of the positive attention generated by the iPad launch, the ITC decides to hear Nokia’s patent complaints against the computer maker

The International Trade Commission (ITC) has decided to investigate Nokia’s complaint that Apple’s mobile phones, computers and portable music players infringe on Nokia patents.

Nokia cites seven of its patents that it says are now being used by Apple to create key features in Apple products in the areas of user interface, camera, antenna and power management technologies.

The ITC will investigate whether Apple is in violation of Section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930, which prohibits the importation of products that infringe the technology of others. Nokia is seeking a cease and desist order against Apple.

The ITC complaint follows a Nokia patent infringement lawsuit against Apple earlier in 2010 and Apple’s countersuit claiming Nokia is infringing on its patents.

“Nokia has been the leading developer of many key technologies in small electronic devices,” Paul Melin, Nokia’s general manager of patent licensing, said in a 29 Dec. statement. “This action is about protecting the results of such pioneering development. While our litigation in Delaware is about Apple’s attempt to free-ride on the back of Nokia investment in wireless standards, the ITC case filed today is about Apple’s practice of building its business on Nokia’s proprietary innovation.”

In the Delaware infringement lawsuit, filed in October, Nokia claimed Apple is infringing on 10 Nokia patents related to technology involved in making devices that are compatible with one or more of the GSM, UMTS (Universal Mobile Telecommunications System)/3G WCDMA (Wideband Code Division Multiple Access) and WLAN standards. The patents cover wireless data, speech coding, security and encryption.

Nokia claimed much of this intellectual property has been declared essential to industry standards and noted that Nokia has already successfully entered into license agreements involving the technology with approximately 40 companies, including virtually all the leading mobile device vendors. Nokia began seeking royalties from Apple in May.

When Apple refused to negotiate a royalty agreement, Nokia filed its lawsuit. Apple replied in December with a countersuit claiming that Nokia is infringing 13 Apple patents.

“Other companies must compete with us by inventing their own technologies, not just by stealing ours,” Bruce Sewell, Apple’s general counsel and senior vice president, said in a 11 Dec. statement.

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