Sucheta Dalal :Nokia sues Apple over patent infringements
Sucheta Dalal

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Nokia sues Apple over patent infringements  

October 23, 2009

Finland-based Nokia, the world's largest mobile phone maker, has said that it has filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Apple Inc alleging that Apple iPhone infringes Nokia patents for GMS, UMTS and wireless LAN standards with the Federal District Court in Delaware, US.


In a release, Nokia said 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.

"Apple is also expected to follow this principle. 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," said Ilkka Rahnasto, vice president, legal & intellectual property, Nokia.

Nokia said it had invested more than 40 billion euro in research and development and had over 10,000 patent families during the last two decades and also signed licence agreements with about 40 companies, including virtually all the leading mobile device vendors for its patents.

The ten patents in the suit relate to technologies fundamental to making devices which are compatible with one or more of the GSM, UMTS (3G WCDMA) and wireless LAN standards. The patents cover wireless data, speech coding, security and encryption and are infringed by all Apple iPhone models shipped since the iPhone was introduced in 2007, Nokia said in a release.

The question is if at all Apple was infringing Nokia's patents from 2007, then why did the Finnish company wait till end-2009 to file a lawsuit? Does it have some relation with Nokia's failure to catch up with Apple in the high-end smartphone category, ruled by iPhone? Nokia sells its smartphones, but mostly in the mid-level segment, while in the higher-end segment, Apple is miles ahead from Nokia.

Nokia so far has sold about 16.3 million smartphones while Apple has sold 7.3 million phones, so in a way Nokia smartphones outsell iPhone by a factor of two in the markets they compete. But here again, Apple had sold all its phones in the higher-end category while Nokia’s sales consist of high-end as well as the mid-level segment. This clearly shows Nokia's failure to compete with iPhone.

Nokia has been struggling to gain a foothold in the high-end phone market now that is ruled by the iPhone and this may be a last ditch effort to derail future models from Apple or, assuming they’re going for a more mercenary approach, cash in on some of the iPhone’s success.
-Yogesh Sapkale [email protected]

-- Sucheta Dalal