Apple countersues Nokia for patent infringement

Fri, Dec 11, 2009

Legal, News

Well this is certainly getting interesting.  In late October you’ll recall that Nokia sued Apple for infringing on a number of patents pertaining to technologies that help make devices compatible with wireless LAN standards and GSM and UMTS networks.  Nokia argues that Apple’s iPhone has been infringing on their patents since it was first released in 2007.

Earlier today, Apple issued a press-release announcing that they’ve countersued Nokia for infringing on 13 Apple patents, including the iPhone user interface.  “Other companies must compete with us by inventing their own technologies, not just by stealing ours,” said Bruce Sewell, Apple’s General Counsel and senior vice president in the press release.

Apple’s lawsuit reads in part:

As Anssi Vanjoki, Nokia’s executive Vice President and General Manager of Multimedia, stated at Nokia’s GoPlay event in 2007 when asked about the similarities of Nokia’s new offerings to the already released iPhone:”[i]f there is something good in the world, we copy with pride.” True to this quote, Nokia has demonstrated its willingness to copy Apple’s iPhone ideas as well as Apple’s basic computing technologies, all while demanding Apple pay for access to Nokia’s purported standards essential patent. Apple seeks redress for this behavior.

For its part, Apple denies infringing upon any valid portions of Nokia’s patents while also denying that Nokia’s patents are essential to any industry standard.  It goes on to write that even Nokia’s patents are found to be valid and part of an industry standard, Nokia has “refused to license those patents on fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory terms.”

In dealing with Apple, Nokia has sought to gain an unjust competitive advantage over Apple by charging unwarranted fees to use patents that allegedly cover industry compatibility standards and by seeking to obtain access to Apple’s intellectual property.  Nokia needs access to Apple’s intellectual property because Nokia has copied and is now using that patented technology.

Through the present suit, Nokia has asserted unfounded claims of infringement and breached licensing commitments it made to license on [fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory] terms all patents that it claimed were necessary for a party to practice standards. Nokia has also violated those licensing commitments by demanding unjustifiable royalties and reciprocal licenses to Apple’s patents covering Apple’s pioneering technology – patents unrelated to any industry standard.  This attempt by Nokia to leverage patents previously pledged to industry standards is an effort to free ride on the commercial success of Apple’s innovative iPhone while avoiding liability for copying the iPhone and infringing Apple’s patents.

Not surprisingly, Apple is looking to have Nokia’s original complaint dismissed with prejudice, along with payment for attorney fees and damages from Nokia’s infringement.

If you recall, when Steve Jobs first introduced the iPhone, he made a point of saying that they patented the hell out of the device, so it’ll be interesting to see where this case takes us.  We’re guessing settlement.


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