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back to article Nokia sues Apple over iPhone

Nokia is suing Apple for allegedly infringing ten of the company's patents in its iPhone device. The world's number one mobile phone vendor filed its lawsuit in Delaware's federal district court today. Nokia detailed ten patents in the case that relate to technologies "fundamental to making devices which are compatible with one …

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FAIL

Ha!

Nokia....the new SCO?

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Legal BS

Nokia press release contains more legal Bull than the press statement.

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Heart

Bitter?

Nokia have lead the mobile market for decades, I'm sure they could have developed such a device but it seems the fresh thinking jobsian outfit has well and truly surpassed them at their own game!

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Anonymous Coward

Really?

"Apple could not immediately be reached for comment at time of writing"

It's Apple, you're The Register... Apple will *never* be reached for a comment by you! So I'll do the comment for you....

"We at Apple will never infringe a patent, in fact if we find something we like we patent it ourselves even if there is prior art and stuff like that, but as we are Apple we can do no wrong and Nokia have not got a leg to stand on, because they are European and we're American and Steve Jobs is God! What do the Finnish have? Santa Claus? Which would you prefer, Santa or God? What do you mean Santa comes once a year and delivers the iPhones to little kids.... bugger.... lets settle this before Santa gets pissed and stops delivering the Jesus phone!"

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Bronze badge
Thumb Up

patience is a virtue :)

hmm that infringes our patent !

wait for Massive user base

Sue

WIN :D

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Unhappy

Right ...

so they have chosen to respond to competition by litigation (rather than with better products than the competitor ?). Sad.

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Silver badge
Jobs Horns

Go! Nokia! Go!

Teach them fruity patentards a lesson!

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Jobs Halo

3 years

Its taken them this long to figure out that iPhone infringes? Or perhaps just that they decided to wait and see if it was a threat first and that they could claim more in damages when theres a larger user base?

Nokia... "we can't make a phone thats better than the iPhone and we're losing customers by the day, what'll we do.

a) Use all our amazing research and design skills and produce a phone thats 100% better than the iPhone and all these other new fangled phone makers and the customers will come flooding in

b) Nothing other than sit in a corner and cry before going bust

c) Sue Apple.

tough choice huh?

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Troll

Troll?

Ah well I suppose Scandinavians are the experts on Trolls

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hmm

Does it really take 2 years to determine if a product is patent infringing? Or does it only take as long as it takes to get out a potentially competing product, THEN hope to cripple the competition with a patent lawsuit?

The whole patent system, especially as implemented by the USA, is a joke. It was meant to encourage innovation. It's become another blunt instrument in either getting rich quick (the trolls) or STOPPING innovation (everyone else). How the hell is some inventor supposed to "profit from their invention" when, as soon as their invention starts getting used, they're hit for millions in just court costs by some troll who got rich off the LAST set of patents that were subsequently thrown out? We aren't all RIM who can afford 600 million payouts fighting invalid patent claims by trolls.

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Alert

Nice work if you can get it....

It would seem that the only people making more money than Apple at the minute are their lawyers.

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WTF?

Correct?

Is the IP VP (nice acronym!) correct in basically stating that Nokia have sufficiently sewn up the market that anyone wishing to utilise the standards around GSM, UMTS etc need to pay Nokia a bagload of money?

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in a nutshell

Nokia is pissed that Apple make better phones than they do and as such no-one buys their shit any more!

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Sounds like extorsion

"By refusing to agree appropriate terms for Nokia's intellectual property"

Sounds like Nokia said "pay our exorbitant licensing fee or we will sue your ass."

On the other hand, this wasn't filed in East Texas so it must be legit.

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FAIL

Predictable.

If you can't beat 'em, sue 'em.

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Coffee/keyboard

signs of weakness

nokia feeling the growing threat.... I think it is more a sign of fear than anything else.

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Alert

Hey Nokia!

Any chance you could make use of these patents in your own phones?

Every time I get my mits on the latest Nokia device it's slightly worse than the previous model at getting a signal, in fact I think next year should see the launch of a phone that can't get onto the network at all judging by this 'ere N97.

Maybe if you win you should ask to be paid in OS code instead of money, perhaps you can then start with a working phone at launch and build on that instead of releasing an alpha test unit and trying to fix it before it gets to end of life.

I'm going to go and think calm thoughts now.

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Anonymous Coward

Possibly not a troll

Let's face it, Nokia have been in the mobile business since the beginning. Apple were very late to the market after all the hard work had been done so it wouldn't surprise me to find they do indeed infringe the patents of Nokia and others. It wouldn't be the first time they have decided to steal something, repackage it and sell it off as their own and deal with the fine later. It worked well for them with the ipod, they made far more than what they had to pay Creative once the courts caught up with them.

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Anonymous Coward

"How do we overcome our horrendous financial performance?"

"I know! Lets sue our most visible competitor with some bullshit legalese for loads of money rather than making money by making a device that ACTUALLY competes! Anyone got Darl McBride's number?"

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Stop

Market share

A minor factual point, but one worth making in the light of various "Nokia have lead", "massive user base" comments.

Nokia are the market leaders in smartphones by a considerable margin (in fact, by factors over Apple) and are (as reported in El Reg) destined to remain there for some years to come.

http://www.reghardware.co.uk/2009/10/09/android_2012_gartner/

Mine's the one with the n95 in the pocket, but I'm no fanboi of anyone.

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Qux
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You gotta pay if you wanna play

So Apple refused to pay for the usual patent license agreement that all the other cellphone manufacturers have with Nokia, eh? Can't see the boys in Cupertino coming out of this one unscathed.

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Stop

@Nick Woodruffe and matty99

I've not seen the patents in question, so I couldn't say whether or not they are being infringed by Apple.

However, evangelism in the name of the Church of Jobs, or comparing Nokia to SCO won't invalidate any patents they do hold, and you can be pretty sure that they DO hold a large number of telecommunications related intellectual property. It isn't beyond the realms of possibility that the iPhone does infringe one or more of these patents, and it wouldn't surprise me. After all, Nokia has been a consitent innovator in the field, and Apple has come along late in the day and joined the market. Either thay have re-developed all the existing prior art in the field, in complete isolation, which is unlikely to say the least, or they should be licensing the patented IP that they are using. Which sounds more likely to you?

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Anonymous Coward

If at first you don't suceed...

... sue, sue and sue again.

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mwk

@Lionel Baden

While the cynicism is traditional, and possibly true (this recession is a bit harsh, who can we sue to balance the books?), there's no reason this couldn't be the result of a breakdown in negotiations.

This section of their press release:

"Nokia has already successfully entered into license agreements ... including virtually all the leading mobile device vendors ..."

implies to me that they've convinced everyone else to hand over some wedge, but talks with Apple have broken down, so they're heading to the courts.

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Jobs Halo

re: Bitter?

"Nokia have lead the mobile market for decades, I'm sure they could have developed such a device but it seems the fresh thinking jobsian outfit has well and truly surpassed them at their own game!"

This is what I find odd based upon the information provided in the article. The crux of Nokia's legal claim is alleged infrigement on 10 patents derived from a "basic principal" of established standards - yet the direct quotes in the article infer that the legal claim is based upon infringement of IPR [intellectual property rights] in these "established standards" and not seemingly in the intellectual property of the 10 patents themselves.

Is there a legal basis for classifying standards as intellectual propety? Any design / product based upon such standards, yes - but the actual standards themselves?

Based upon the information, it definitely seems a case of sour grapes because Apple developed better design / product innovation from these "established standards" than Nokia.

Another point to note is whether or not there was any legal agreement constraining use of these "established standards" i.e. a royalty of some kind?

It will be interesting to see how "established standards" are defined in a legal context.

** For any affadavit, I've used a Steve Jobs icon after switching to the iPhone after 3 months (ab)use of the Nokia E71. Superb handset build ruined by S60.

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(Written by Reg staff)

re: Bitter?

Standards usually contain intellectual property that can command royalty payments and/or licensing fees. Just because a technology becomes a standard doesn't mean the creator has given away the rights to the relevant IP.

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gjw
Jobs Horns

This will probably...

end up in exchange of patents. Apple the real technical patents. Nokia the 'multi touch patent'. Can't wait for a multi touch enabled Maemo device.

Evil Steve's getting some of his own medicine for a change.

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Flame

I guess all other cell phone manufacturers could be violating their patents?

--- Nokia detailed 10 patents in the case that relate to technologies "fundamental to making devices which are compatible with one or more of the GSM, UMTS and wireless LAN standards," it said in a statement.

Let me get this straight, any cell phone manufacturer which supports multiple wireless protocols will infringe on some of these 10 patents?

Why not sue Motorola, Blackberry, and all the other manufacturers, too!

It should have been a mutiple company lawsuit!

I bet Linux community, Microsoft, Symbian, Google, Palm, and other cell phone OS manufacturers will be watching the result of the suit...

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Seems normal

It is normal that Nokia should wait to see if the iPhone makes it big before suing. It would be silly to spend huge amounts of money on lawyers fees if the iPhone was then discovered to be a disaster and provided bugger all royalties.

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Megaphone

It's Not Patent Trolling

Apple has a licence with InterDigital (up to June 2014) for the various GSM/etc. patents and even Nokia has to pay them royalties as they own at least one patent which is essential to inter-operation with a 3G network.

It would appear that Nokia themselves own essential patents for which Apple are not covered by their licence with InterDigital. The reason for the timing of the litigation may well be down to this result having only just become apparent.

In fact, that's exactly what it looks like:

http://www.electronista.com/articles/09/10/17/itc.finds.nokia.not.violating.3g.patents/

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lawyers win.

I'm 100% sure the decision to sue apple was not taken lightly, and Nokia actually believes apple's patent portfolio is weak compared to nokias. Big companies usually crosslicense patents, the fact that this is ended up in public means that apple thought that nokia would't dare sue. Next, expect apple to countersue.

Intuetively Apple is holding the losing end of the stick - if they don't have licenses for gsm/3g patents, you are really in no business selling phones. Apple can ban nokia from selling multitouch cellphones, but Nokia can ban Apple from selling phones at all. Consumers lose, Lawyers win.

Expect Apple to buy motorola to get their hand in the cellphone patent pool (and existing crosslicensing deals of Nokia-Motorola)

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FAIL

Deleware?

Nokia is really behind in the appeals game. Take a page from the Troll Book and file in Texas.

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Stop

Hoist by their own petard?

Sweet, sweet irony for the patent happy Applists...

For the various Church of Jobbitologists here, please note that Nokia have been in the mobile market since time immemorial, and have been actively involved in developing the various standards of mobile technology, from GSM, GPRS, 3G onwards, as well as such mundane little things such as the spectrum used, the masts and infrastructure, the globalisation of the technology and the commonality of such systems - anyone else remember the days of having phones that didn't work in the US due to triband issues?

And for the record, I don't like any of the current Nokia stuff, in fact, the last decent phones were the 6210 series and the really tiny ones that came after. In fact, the terrible battery life (one day of light usage FFS!!!??!?!) and general flakiness of the 6500 classic have pushed me back to Sony Ericsson.

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Jobs Horns

Ah, gotta love the fanbois.

So, in summary, Apple suing anyone else for patent infringement is good, Apple being sued by anyone else for patent infringement is bad, irrespective of any actual facts or legal outcome?

Fuckwits....

GJC

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Grenade

I can't speak to the patents in question...

...since nobody listed them for us, but:

Apple's patent lawyers, and the processes they go through for due dilligence on new products, are TOP NOTCH, and few cases have ever gotten past them causing them to pay out.

At best, Nokia might have some obscure minor patents that do not effect the overall functionality of the iPhone that will either be licensed for small amounts of money later (consistent with what others pay only for those minor technolgies, plus some penalties), or Apple will simply code around them with little impact.

The chips that are in the device are solt to apple (as they are to RIM, Sony, Motorolla, etc) and Apple is almost certainly not the manufacturer of the infringing technology. So long as Apple has proper documentation and assumptions in that the distributors of this chipsets and components have appropriate rights to the technology (which I'm usre Broadcom and others do), then it realy boils down to software, and those patents are easy to work around provided Apple can in fact document due dillegence and effort to identify potential conflicts.

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Maybe Nokia didn't ask for $$

My thought is that Nokia told Apple "The cost for YOU to license our patents won't be $$. It will be a cross licensing agreement so we can get access to your patent pool."

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@Ed Blackshaw

Your well-reasoned, non-sensationalized comments make me sick! They have no place on any internet discussion board. You are banished.

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Flame

Standards without patents, please!

Hello European Competition Commissioner! This is what you get when you let cartels load up publicly mandated standards with patents.

In fact, Nokia love patents embedded in standards - it's the corporate doctrine - as do a bunch of other dirty telecoms and electronics companies who campaigned for software patents in Europe back in 2004. For all we know, the campaigning still goes on behind closed doors.

Standards should be open and not patent-encumbered. Favouring big corporations doesn't promote innovation in Europe - that's the usual excuse, as the corrupt Commission rubs shoulders with the CEO of the "captains of industry" - nor does it do so in any other market: it just lets those corporations shore up their positions while they screw over new entrants. And although Apple is itself quite dirty with respect to patents and consumer coercion, if you start getting everyone - even Apple - to pay patent fees over and over (on the components, on the assembled stuff, on whatever else), you destroy the competitive landscape.

So, Commissioner, make yourself useful!

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Alert

Fair use of patents for once

Apple pays some company, Nokia sues some company and wins.

Apple has thrown money out the window to a company that didn't really have the right to license out the stuff.

Nokia contacts Apple to get their RIGHTFUL compensation, but Apple refuses so Nokia sues.

All the patents is invented and used by Nokia and is actually a case of when the patent system works sanely, it's not like Apples stupid software patents, but real invented hardware patents and simply a case where Apple got screwed by a company that didn't have the right to license what they sold Apple.

Why Apple doesn't pay, is confusing most people, because it's quite clear that Apple is going to loss the case. Maybe there is some economical advantage for Apple in delaying the years a complicated trial takes, because otherwise it seems like, to the industry at large, they are paying lawyers to loss a trial.

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Linux

Wait a second...

I seem to remember a BOATLOAD of bullshit IP and Trademark lawsuits aimed at anyone that dared to get remotely close to what Apple thinks belongs to them. Like that horseshit lawsuit against Woolworths in Australia.

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/10/05/apple_woolworths/

I mean really, WTF? From a bit of research, I see that Apple is a very difficult company to negotiate with when it comes down to THEM paying royalties for someone else's IP. Their arrogant lawyers basically say, "Go ahead, sue us".

It appears Nokia was trying to do just that when they were told by Apple's arrogant lawyers to "Go take a hike". This is consistent with what I have read about Apple's behavior during IP negotiations.

It seems when Apple sues offending companies for IP and trademark violations no matter how ridiculous, the fanboys wholeheartedly agree. But when the tables are turned against Apple, the plaintiff's are labeled as monsters and patent trolls.

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Nokia vs. Apple

I think Nokia's problem is not so much that Apple has a better market share than them, but that Apple have gone from no market share to 11% in a little over two years. That is incredibly quick.

As for why the iPhone is doing so well. Well, the fanboi effect is probably part of it, but I would venture that Nokia has more fanbois than Apple..

I think one reason is that the iPhone has a logical user interface. Much more logical than any Symbian-based interface (and I am a Symbian fan). In my experience, even if my friends haven't used an iphone before, they usually find it easy to find options. This is not something that can be said of my old N95.

The N95 had options hidden on various menus (the settings menu was particularly badly organised), with no consistency and no apparent thought. The iPhone has a quite tightly defined user interface, so the menus are fairly consistent.

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FAIL

If at first...

First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win....

As a former owner of the dire box of crap that is the N97 and now having moved to an iPhone, I can say first hand that Nokia are in serious trouble. I still use my previous N95 as a spare phone/camera and it's still pretty decent even at over two years old. However, after using the flaky, unreliable, clunky and totally unfriendly (even for a seasoned Symbian user like myself) N97 they've lost me as a customer for life.

I'd love to know how these big companies reach their "Vista" points. The time when instead of innovating and refining they play copy-cat and as a result release a half baked, half functioning, half arsed product (like the N97) and push customers to the competition.

All I wanted as an upgrade was an N95 with a keyboard.... Instead, I've now moved on to greener pastures. From the above quote, Nokia could be one step from extinction in the smart phone arena - destined to be the low end brand for cheap disposable handsets. High volume, low profit. If they're going to play at being the new SCO, good riddance.

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@Tony Smith

WRT GSM, there are basically two patentarded pieces remaining: EDGE & UMTS. GPRS, old GSM voice codecs and SMS/MMS are already patent-free IIRC.

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Sour Grapes

HA HA HA!

Sour grapes Nokia!

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Flame

Re: Sounds like extorsion

Actually it is not. The license fees for most of that are pretty much determined by the GSMA and other trade bodies. If Nokia asked an exorbitant fee Apple could and should have taken the case with the GSMA and the EU competition commission. If they have not, well sorry, can't help it, Lazarus Long quote on stupidity comes to mind.

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Thumb Up

Just because...

...this is the first WE'VE heard of it, doesn't mean that Nokia haven't been in negotiations with Apple for the last 2 years about this.

Personally, knowing Nokia's patent portfolio - it wouldn't surprise me one bit if the iPhone infringes one or more patents owned by Nokia.

Here's hoping that they win and that Apple is forced to payout.

After all, the iPhone appears to value appearance over functionality every time (18 months to get MMS support and then it only supports pictures? Come on!!!)

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Flame

Re: I guess all other cell phone manufacturers could be violating their patents? #

Because Motorola and RIM are paying.

RIM in the early days had all of its GSM stack licensed from someone else. That someone else became too arrogant and demonstrated classic UK attitude to customers which made RIM rewrite the upper layers themselves around 2003, but they still peruse licensed low level silicon designs and they pay licensing.

That is how the mobile world works and that is why Symbian survived for so long. Until recently anything that was not free and not patent locked was simply not considered in the standards bodies. Granted, as a result of it becoming a standard the royalties are reasonable and should be level onto everyone. However, they are there none the less.

It is only with LTE that the major players finally slapped themselves on the forehead and realised that they have reached the idiotic situation where 50%+ of the cost of a low end phone are royalties.

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Jobs Horns

Oh dear...

Poor fanboys... Climb back off your apple carts...

Why has it taken 2 years, well maybe because the wheels of law turn so very slowly, and expensively. Maybe Nokia have been trying to get Apple to behave and pay up like everyone else has, and has finally given up waiting and had to push the matter.

As for Nokia not making a better phone than apple... They make plenty of better phones. What they don't make better are over-priced, over-heating, fashion accessory toys with a pitiful camera.

Now run along, I think you need to find your charger. On the way, remind yourself of what a litigious lot Apple are, and then look up the phrase "taste of their own medicine"

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Funny how

a lot of comments suggest that Nokia is suing Apple because Apple have a better product, something which Nokia was unable to think up and develop, when actually the contested patents involve wireless data, speech coding, security and encryption. Doesn't appear to me that it's because of competition by some superior product (that becomes quite inferior once you leave it in your back trouser pocket and sit down), when, judging by the numbers, Apple's fashion statement that can occasionally make phone calls too is hardly taking a nibble out of Nokia's market share.

It's just basic "You're using technology we developed, you pay us. Oh, you won't? Okay, the gloves are off then."

And no, I'm not a Nokia fanboi. Work foisted a N95 on me, which, because of various issues, I replaced with a 6300i. That one does the job the N95 was repeatedly failing at.

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Pirate

@AC "I guess all other cell phone manufacturers could be violating their patents?"

"Let me get this straight, any cell phone manufacturer which supports multiple wireless protocols will infringe on some of these 10 patents?@

"Why not sue Motorola, Blackberry, and all the other manufacturers, too!@

Standards like GSM etc often tend to end up running on the basis of cross licensing deals. If you can bring some useful technology to the party you get to trade the use of your IP for other peoples IP, and the likes of Siemens, Ericsson, Motorola et-al are probably covered by cross licensing deals on that sort of basis. One way or another late comers who can't, don't, or won't bring anything to the party may well have to pay.

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