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

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.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

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.


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