Smartphone wars: Apple fires back at Nokia; Court skirmishes heat up

Smartphone wars: Apple fires back at Nokia; Court skirmishes heat up

Summary: The latest patent skirmish between Apple and Nokia is just a precursor to a series of court cases over the intellectual property that powers smartphones.


Apple has responded to Nokia's patent suit and argued in court documents that the mobile phone giant is violating antitrust laws with its "unreasonable" royalty requests for standard technology.

The latest skirmish between Apple and Nokia comes as mobile phone players are increasingly duking it out in court and via the International Trade Commission (ITC).

To wit:

That's a full plate for sure.

What are most of these skirmishes about? Patents and licensing terms mostly. Those with patents want more money out of those licensing technology. And if parties don't agree it quickly turns into a court skirmish. Nokia and Apple are exhibit A of this trend.

In October, Nokia filed a lawsuit against Apple alleging infringement on 10 patents. Nokia wanted royalties on 42 million iPhones sold so far. Apple countersued in December and prepared its initial response. Nokia then fired back.

On Friday, Apple returned fire and delivered its complete response to the Nokia complaint. The big difference this go round: Apple is playing the antitrust card.

Apple argues that Nokia didn't disclose its intellectual property rights in a timely manner and now Nokia has monopoly power over five areas that essentially make a wireless phone work. Apple alleges that Nokia misled standard setting groups so it could ensure its inventions were included in Wi-Fi, wireless transmissions and similar technologies. Apple adds that Nokia's patent claims on devices that use GSM, GPRS, EDGE, UMTS and WLAN standards will raise prices for all.

Apple also adds that Nokia's rates are too high.

Here are a few choice excerpts from the filing (download complaint PDF):

These charges and countercharges are going to sound familiar in the not-too-distant future. There are plenty of patent squabbles in the wireless phone pipeline.


Topics: Apple, Enterprise Software, Legal, Mobility, Nokia, Smartphones, Wi-Fi

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  • *Sigh*

    Can they not just meet over a copy and thrash this one out?

    Because, aside from the lawyers fees, that's what's going to happen anyway.
    Sleeper Service
    • RE: Smartphone wars: Apple fires back at Nokia; Court skirmishes heat up

      @Sleeper Service If only everything was that simple. Unfortunately it isn't. When you think of the money involved it just makes me feel nau<a href=""><font color="#2B292A">seo</font></a>us.
  • I say we just invalidate these Apple and Nokia patents

    and stop impeding technology with endless lawsuits. I understand patents protect the little guy and lets them get a foot hold in the market so they can compete, but neither of these companies is little.
    • ROI

      If a company, large or small, cannot have some kind of reasonable expectation for getting a return on its research & development investment, how much R&D do you think will actually occur? Why would anybody innovate anything, instead of waiting for someone else to do it, and then just take the tech and use it for free?
      • Nokia sat on their butts for three years...

        Nokia sat on their butts for three years, what is Apple supposed to do?
        Seems to me Nokia was trying to force Apple to not enter the cell phone
        market by refusing to license or license at an unreasonable price.

        If Nokia cared so much about their intellectual property, it wouldn't be
        waiting [i]three years[/i] to do something about it.
        • What makes you think they "waited?"

          Read the lawsuits. Negotiations have been going on for some time. Furthermore, Apple has an army of IP lawyers that have to do patent searches for Apple's own patents...why didn't they do a patent scrub on their own products prior to release-- like the rest of the technology world?

          Don't be so naive as to think that Nokia "waited" three years. They had to hear about the infringement first, then hire a forensic expert to confirm the infringement by way of reverse engineering, notify Apple and then start negotiating. As an engineer with *plenty* of experience in forensic reverse engineering, I can tell you that it probably took over one year just to perform the analysis.
    • Sounds good to me.

      That goes for about 95% of the rest of the patents out there as well.

      My favorite:
    • If they did this they would do that for all patents....

      @T1Oracle Then the little companies and individuals that have patents would be able to collect money on their inventions.
  • Giants in a sandbox.

    [Jack Nicholson]Why can't we all just get along?[/Jack
  • I had a long laugh reading the first paragraph

    this is why it is called "patent". Somebody invests in a technology a lot of money at the time nobody beleives in it, now it is time to get it back. Patents by Nokia is a real deal - years of R&D and engineering.

    This is one lamest excuse - unreasonable royalty request. IS it the best they can offer? Don't they have anyting to offer Nokia in return? Apple has lots of valuable patents, doesn't it?
    • what cracks me up ... how Apple goes after those it feels infringes upon their IP rights ... (vis a vis Psystar) ... yet doesn't want to play ball when they are infringing upon someone elses.

      Apple will lose, eventually, and have to pay up. What I am anxious to see is if, like Microsoft, they'll have the cash on hand to handle the royalties that will be due.
      • MS already pays them.

        That's one of the biggest problems for Apple. All other tech makers agree Nokia OWNS these patents and are paying them royalties. Apple has been stiffing Nokia, the other big players have not.

        I think Apples best bet is to try and invalidate the patents - but they risk making an arguement that could hurt them later on in their own patent disputes.
      • Rubbish!

        What rubbish! To say that Apple is wrong with its case against Psystar is ridiculous! Not only did Psystar break the law, but the courts found them guilty as charged!

        As far as whether or not Apple has the money, like Microsoft, to pay for any royalties that might be due if they lose, is an ignorant statement since Apple has billions of dollars more in cash than does Microsoft, as you can see in the old report below. You can now add about 10 billion dollars more to the one below!

        As some analysts have pointed out, Nokia may be trying to force Apple to license its multi-touch technology patents, because it's being beaten in the smart phone market by the likes of Apple, RIM and now Android!

        The very tone of your comment shows, to me, that you have a major bias against Apple and that you are not interested in the least in the facts, but just what ever makes Apple look like the bad guy here!
      • Just facts

        As of the latest reports to the SEC, Apple has no debt and $24.8
        billion (B) in cash.

        Nokia is a Finnish company and their reporting, besides being in
        Euros, is not quite comparable--but I can see that their debt is
        more than double their "bank and cash."
      • If you read the response

        @kckn4fun: Apple's counterclaim is that while in negotiations with Nokia, Nokia refused FRAND (Fair/Reasonable and Non-discriminatory) terms. Basically comes down to Nokia may have been trying to milk more money out of Apple then other companies thus not complying with FRAND terms.
    • If you bothered with facts instead of agenda

      you'd realize that the basis for Apple's unreasonable royalty claim is that
      Nokia is trying to charge them a DIFFERENT ROYALTY SCHEDULE than
      they are ALL OTHER cellphone vendors.

      Get it? Or are you too comfortable in your little cocoon of prejudices.
      • Substantiation please...

        You wrote: "Nokia is trying to charge them a DIFFERENT ROYALTY SCHEDULE..."

        Link to the trustable proof would be appreciated, and a snippet of Apple's complaint is not proof.

        From what I read in the article, Nokia says they are using the standard royalty fees for this technology. Historically, Apple's problem isn't that they have to pay royalty fees, it's that Apple doesn't want to pay the going rate.

        The only exception to that rule, based upon Apple's history is the eBook cost for iPad users.

        Now as for others paying Apple whatever Apple demands is another story.
        • @PollyProteus

          Did you even read what has been going on? Apple asked Nokia repeatedly to show them what they were charging other companies and Nokia repeatedly refused. This leads to the conclusion that they (Nokia) has something to hide. If Nokia was being honest and charging the same low cost royalty to everyone as they are bound to from the standards committee, then what do they have to hide? Why not show what they are charging everyone else? I think Nokia is about to get busted for being dishonest and charging variable rates.
          • It's a real pity...

            These articles are like beating a dead horse. It's like "Well it's a boring Monday so let's stir up the Nokia vs. Apple debate again" ;)

            Here is one of the better summaries I've run across:
          • Good stuff

            "oncall," that was a good link to an interesting story, with more
            history and analysis than the article we are all commenting on. I
            read it to the end and learned it was written by Dan Dilger, who I
            consider to be a "trusted source." Thanks!