ITC Investigates Nokia Following Apple Complaint


The International Trade Commission, already looking into the complaint Nokia filed against Apple, is now to investigate Apple’s complaint against the Finnish company

It is a busy time for the International Trade Commission, which has said it will investigate Apple’s complaint against Nokia. The federal body is already looking into the complaint Nokia filed against Apple.

The complaint claims that the “sale of certain mobile communications and computer devices and components” by Nokia infringe on nine patents held by Apple and asks that Nokia be made to stop selling the devices in the United States.

The ITC will assign the case to one of its six administrative law judges, who will hold an evidentiary hearing and decide whether a violation has occurred, the agency announced 19 February.

On 27 January, the ITC likewise agreed to investigate a complaint that Nokia logged against Apple, alleging, similarly, that its computers, phones and music players infringe on several patents, specifically to camera, antenna, power management and user interface technologies.

The recent legal tit-for-tat between the two began on 22 October last year, with Nokia filing a complaint against Apple in a US District Court, alleging that Apple’s iPhone infringes on 10 Nokia-held patents for GSM, UMTS and WLAN standards.

“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,” Ilkka Rahnasto, vice president of Nokia’s legal and intellectual property division, said in a statement.

“Apple is also expected to follow this principle,” Rahnasto continued. “By refusing to agree [to] appropriate terms for Nokia’s intellectual property, Apple is attempting to get a free ride on the back of Nokia’s innovation.”

Apple answered Dec. 11, alleging that Nokia infringes on 13 of its patents and releasing a statement of its own, in which Bruce Sewell, Apple’s general counsel and senior vice president, offered: “Other companies must compete with us by inventing their own technologies, not just by stealing ours.”

Ezra Gottheil, an analyst with Technology Business Research, has called the lawsuits a “form of negotiation,” and told eWEEK that the matter of who’s in the right is nearly impossible to tell.

“No one’s accusing anyone of stealing anything. It’s all a matter of convergence – of two separate organisations winding up with techniques that are similar enough that if one patent [seems to cover it more], then the other company has to pay to use it,” Gottheil told eWEEK.

The very busy ITC additionally announced 19 February that it will also investigate a complaint filed by Motorola against Research In Motion. In a 22 January complaint, Motorola alleged that the sale of RIM products violates five Motorola patents.

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