Nokia has beefed up its legal challenge to Apple, filing a second patent-infringement lawsuit against Cupertino in US District Court in Delaware. This time around, the Finnish outfit says that Apple stole patents that make Nokia unique, including patents for a camera phone and a touch-screen display. The suit comes on the heels …
Having just struggled with yet another buggy Nokia (and this after the N97 horror too), I have to say that they're in their death throes.
They've failed to embrace Intarwebs services properly, Ovi was a disaster, and now they text spam any poor bastard stupid enough to register for it and include their number so they can poke the phone. Their platforms are becoming increasingly fragmented- S40? S60? Maemo? Their quality control is becoming increasingly slipshod (backup bugs in the 6700 classic or the general N97 disaster anyone?).
Their interfaces are jumbled and inconsistent. Their support for their broken products is now verging on non-existent (after some great experiences in the past).
I have mostly bought Nokia down the years due to their consistency, even if they weren't the most exciting. However, now they feel just as hit and miss as Samsung, Motorola or any of the other "me too" outfits.
Espoo holds some great patents, sure, but when you turn from a technology to a litigation outfit, it's a sign that you're up Shit Creek without a visible means of locomotion. My next phone will probably be one of Cupertino's finest- at least I can use the supplied software to back it up without it dropping even the USB connection. It will also have the advantage that it will tacitly enrage various insecure bile-spewing mini-Clarksons who like to rail about "fanboi's".
Too bad, Nokia, it was fun while it lasted. It's not me, it's you.
There are a lot of references on the web to prior art, dating back to 1974 (first touchscreen), how they got the patents is another matter, though. The problem will be, how the judge will see things, since they are not the most tech savvy folk around. I guess the Apple lawyers will have to prove they deserve what they get from Apple on a monthly basis ...
As for Nokia starting to make news-worthy smatphones, LOL. They have yet to come up with a single smartphone that can do email properly and I am not even thinking of the "nice to have" features like web browsing or usability ... and don't come with the crap phones aka N9x, total waste of cash!
Touchscreen? Prior Art???
I remember in a sales situation trying to sell a Nicolet Paratronic logic analyser to some gov't outfit, with Dave Yid (see another post). This was late-1980's, I think.
While David was extolling the virtues of ours, I wandered off in their lab. to see a HP logic analyser, and was immediately shouted away by a BOFH lookalike for even thinking of touching the screen. They were taking a measurement at the time. Even in those days, the (IIRC) sole control was a spinny-wheel, (almost) everything else was on the touch screen. It was elegant, colour, and well thought through. I realised we had no chance against such a beautifully crafted creation. Even in those days, the HP Logic Analyser was awesome.
Did you read the actual patent or just the article?
I think you have to actually go and read the patents to see why they were granted the patent. It will be very telling.... ;-)
But here's the problem that you and other apple fanbois seem to forget.
Invalidating the patent doesn't stop or solve the issue of willful infringement.
From a matter of law, the courts have to judge if/when/how Apple infringed on the patent. Not the validity.
6,073,036: 2000, Newton came out in 1998. Sorry. Numerous touchscreens also came out long before that. Apple has pleanty of prior art on this one, as do others, to invalidate this patent entirely.
6,262,735: 2001, again, Newton as prior art, let alone every touch display released prior for POS systems and more.
6,518,957, 2003, touch screen phone (does not specify mobile in patent!), i give to you Apple's 1983 tehcnology: http://www.techeblog.com/index.php/tech-gadget/apple-touchscreen-phone-circa-1983
6,714,091: 2004: Honestly, beyond me a bit, but it sounds fairly specific, and easy to work around, but if it is in fact general enough, would not every device on the market using CPU stepping violate this patent? Also, kinda obvious once you penetrate the tech speak, and I don't see how its much different than some patents filed as early as 1973 i found describing basically the same system, which by this point have all expired.
6,834,181: I don't know of any apple devices offhand that specifically do this, but can one patent the placement of parts inside of an object as a "machine or device" I though you could only patent functional systems, this seems like a combination of aesthetics and a miniaturization technique, which is itself not patentable. Throw it out.
6,895,256: 2003, All refers to the single-chip camera assembly, which apple purchases from what they could assume is a licensed distributor of such technology. But, just in case not, It correlates to analog image monitoring system of on-camera analog sensors for image capture timeing and exposure balance using an onboard integrated image processing system and control bus signal prior to the image being captured and sent to a digital processor. The iPhone cameras do not incorporate such a system, and rely on off-camera image processing not a single-chip solution. Maybe the iSight infringes? who makes the single-chip camera inside those? Not Apple... Still, 2003? Fairly certain i was seeing system-on-a-chip digital cameras in BestBuy prior to that date... Again, refers to mobile terminal, not mobile communications device, so all digital cameras fall into that category.
6,924,789: 2005, Sorry, a) this refers to a capacitive touch screen with specific sensor points correlating to "switches" for keys as well as accepting touch guestures. Apple does not correlate keys to explicit "switches" in the capacitive matrix, it;s all done in software, and B) Apple has a stack of patents on the iPhone's touchscreen dating prior to this patent. Also specifically the patent states the keys are made from silicone rubber, coated in a transparent matrix and hard top coat, and the matrix is comprised of indium-tin-oxide. This is simply too specific of a patent and does not apply to any apple technology I know of, excpet posibly the original iPod ring interface, which was available long prior to 2005...
This is a WEAKER set of patents than Nokia's original volley. Apple's counter suit was actually chock full of REAL patents that clearly indicated Nokia's (and others) violations. Apple does not often attack others when patent disputes are for fairly mundane techologies like this that they really don't care if their competitors use (the interface is right out though!), but they drag them out like this when someone throws a frivilous suit against Apple itself. They exist for defensive purposes. Nokia has weak claims, which might get a small judgement (a few tens of millions), but Apple's counter claims could easily have half or more of nokia's own devices yanked from the market, and have a multi-hundred million return claim. These new claims i think can be easily shot down by Apple's crack legal team.
If Nokia gets out of this paying APPLE less than $100M I'll be surprised. They best simply back down and open the license (and that alone means everyone else gets to stop paying as soon as their current contract terms run out if not sooner). Apple admitted they were approached about some of the GSM licensing for this stuff, and when they did not agree to the rediculous terms, worked around the patents completely, and Apple's folks are REALLY good about doing that properly when they're aware of possible infringement. Nokia however is in direct violation of several key Apple patents I can't find prior art for, nor can I simply dismiss otherwise.
Also, Nokia's admission they're not only behind Apple and RIM, but they "plan to catch up in 2011" including saying "we will also win the war because, in addition to email, we will be adding content, chat, music, entertainment and several other features, which will soon become very critical for success of any company in this space." Well, what, do they think Apple is going to sit on it's ass until 2011??? Chat, already on the iPhone. Music? c'mon. They've got 4.0 in the works, and new tech on the horizon, and there's NO WAY anyone's keeping pace with apple in this space. Yea, they each come up with a gimmick or two in some new devices Apple might not get to first, and in some areas Apple itself is playing catch up (background plug-ins, launch page), but they're not going to pass apple in OS function, device performance, app availabiltiy, and build quality all at a similar or lower price, and by 2011 it will be too late and Apple will have too much market share and they won't have the clout in the industry they have to force other devices on carriers.
Did you actually read the patents?
Clearly a lot of people shoot from the hip without understanding the facts...
You write: "6,895,256: 2003, All refers to the single-chip camera assembly, which apple purchases from what they could assume is a licensed distributor of such technology."
Uhm its a bit more than that..
"US Patent 6895256 - Optimized camera sensor architecture for a mobile telephone" (title)
Abstract: "A mobile terminal includes a lens/filter combination, a single-chip camera module and an integrated mobile terminal processor. The lens/filter combination responds to an image, for providing an optical image signal. The single-chip camera module responds to the optical image signal, and to an integrated mobile terminal processor control signal, for performing analog image processing functions (such as correlated double sampling (CDS) and automatic gain control (AGC)) before an analog-to-digital conversion (ADC), basic sensor driving and adjustment functions (such as pixel access, timing and basic automatic exposure control), and digital input/output (I/O) functions, and providing a sensor data output signal and a single-chip camera module control bus signal. The integrated mobile terminal processor responds to the sensor data output signal, and to the single-chip camera module control bus signal, for performing camera control and data conversion functions, for providing the integrated mobile terminal processor control signal."
Apple puts a digital camera on their phone, Apple is infringing on the patent.
To make it really simple for you... Nokia patents a digital camera on a phone. They get the patent. Apple puts a camera in their iPhone. They are in violation of the patent.
You also went on to write: "6,262,735: 2001, again, Newton as prior art, let alone every touch display released prior for POS systems and more."
Had you read the patent, you'd understand that this has nothing to do with a Newton.
Here's the abstract...
"The scope of the present invention is a device and a method for the utilizing of information contained in a character-based message in a device having several different applications. In the method a character-based message is received, and the message is displayed to the user. The user is allowed to point out a position in the message, whereby a certain character combination is searched for in the message in the proximity of the position pointed out by the user. Upon finding the character combination, the usability, in one of the applications of said applications, of the character combination found in the message is recognized, and based upon the recognition a command is generated for activating said application and for using the information contained in said character combination found in the message in said application. "
This means that if you get a message like an e-mail or a sms text where someone sent you a phone number, you can scroll over and click on the phone number, then the phone automatically dials that number.
I could go on, but you get the idea.
The WTF? is for the poster who clearly doesn't understand what he reads.
N series - looks like a cow...
... feels like a cow, steers like a brick
I remember when the N95 was out and the first iPhone came out and I made a bet with a workmate who loved his Nokia brick to a web surfing challenge. The N95 was on 3G and the iPhone was on Edge. We both had full signal and the challenge was to do a "purposeful" wikipedia drift.
We had to search for a specified item in Google, find the Wikipedia page referring to it, then take the last but one link in the article. Repeat that twice then tell the arbitrator of the challenge what page/article we were on.
The arbitrator of the challenge set the search term, and followed the challenge on a normal PC to see where it lead. The challenge was effectively threefold, download speed, rendering of pages, and usability of the phone in terms of keyboard, pan/scroll and zoom in the browser.
The iPhone finished first in under 2 minutes on the correct article, the N95 finished in just over 3 minutes and on the wrong page.
The sausage buttie was very tasty.
Not the whole picture
Yes... because web is ALL people use mobile phones for. Riiiight.
I used an N95 for over two years and I can count the amount of times I needed or even wanted to use it for the web on one hand. The iPhone is easily the best mobile browsing device even when you take into account it's woeful lack of flash nothing I've used has beaten it. And if that's the functionality you are looking for then I'd generally recommend it. The N97mini I have now however is certainly more than capable for the minimal web work I need to do on it and for calling/texting people and for taking general snaps it kicks the living shit out of any iPhone I've ever used.
Winning market shares in court ?
If Nokia would put as much effort into building great smart phones, as in legal battles, I would probably use a Nokia phone now- not an iPhone.
Nokia’s going down, unless it changes!
The real problem is that they seem to be developing their idea of what phones should be whilst developing sales from emerging markets. At the same time potential customers in emerging markets are looking at the new offerings from rival phone manufacturers and liking what they see.
The next stage for Nokia’s rivals is to increase profit from those same emerging markets and the Finnish giant will either be bought out, or die. I feel the recent litigation is the start of its death throes.
The amazing thing is that at the moment they have the financial and corporate infrastructure to create a world beating smartphone or tablet, but they are just throwing it all away through a rigid idea of how things should be!, whats their latest idea - e-mail to rival RIM?
It looks like wishful thinking if Nokia think they're going to get away with this legal jiggerypokery...
From simply reading the descriptions of the patents in the article I can think of plenty of examples of the technology in use before the date of the patent.
What this shows is the ludicrous way patents are managed in the USA. That situation certainly needs urgent reform, because the only people winning in all this are the lawyers and in the meantime business innovation is stifled and smaller outfits trying to develop new products essentially risk their entire worlds on the basis that someone somewhere doesn't have a spurious patent so broadly drawn as to prevent them even putting pencil to drawing board...
Of course, should this all turn bad for Apple, they can always resort to their war-chest. Earlier today I looked up Nokia's market capitalisation - Apple reportedly has enough of a mountain of cash (yes, ready cash) to buy Nokia outright: mind you, is Nokia actually worth it that sort of money?
"""Earlier today I looked up Nokia's market capitalisation - Apple reportedly has enough of a mountain of cash (yes, ready cash) to buy Nokia outright: mind you, is Nokia actually worth it that sort of money?"""
Nokia's market cap is 1/4 what Apple's is, about $50B and $200B respectively. Apple's last quarter financials show a little over $4.1B in cash or cash equivalents, and only about $54B in total assets. There's no way at all that Apple could land a hostile takeover of Nokia at current (low, for Nokia) market prices, plus a hostile takeover inflates the price quite a bit, since Apple would have to buy far more shares than people are willing to sell at the current price, and large investors would figure out what was going on and hold off on selling until the price went satisfactorily high.
Also keep in mind that the article listed patent grant dates, not original filing dates. A single chip camera sounds a lot more novel in a mobile device in December 2000 than in 2005.
Someone 'in the Know' help out here?
I understood the Finnish government holds a so-called 'Golden Share' in Nokia, which Wikipedia describes as "... to give a government veto powers over any major corporate action, such as the sale of a major asset or subsidiary or of the company as a whole." - e.g. sell-off, as Finland really - and I mean really - depends on Nokia's stability. With the forestry industry (Finland's "Green Gold") in decline, shipbuilding suffering even after building the worlds biggest passenger liner, construction recession terrible, Nokia's holding Finland up IMHO.
May not be true anymore, as IIUC Corporate activities only are in Espoo, but R&D/Manufacturing etc. are in China/India/Hungary.
I hope I'm wrong, but..open to correction. Nokia has, in my opinion, made some daft decisions recently, but that's probably due to the inertia of a 'big ship'. It can't turn around quick enough to stop the smaller, fitter rivals like Huawei, ZTE, etc biting at it's heels. They seem to be in a dichotomy. Cheap phones for the masses, easy - until saturation, but erm - which Operating System should we install this week? Maemo? S40? S60? Windows?
Pity. Market leaders once. Seen DEC lately? Thought not, and I was brought up on the belief that "Every Computer is a D I G I T A L Computer".
It is not just Apple that will kill Nokia
Nokia it would seem is going to hit by Android as well - and I don't think that they can recover from this. The fight between Apple and Google is going to be interesting - and good for consumers.
In my OMGFirstpost rant above, I noted that my next phone would likely be one of Cupertino's- but you make an excellent point. Android is shaping up well, and the Nexus One in particular is interesting.
If tethering could be returned to Android (apps removed at the behest of one of the US carriers, now requires a jailbreak), this would be interesting. Tethering fees on iPhone are ludicrous, when you compare to a small data bolt-on and a copy of Joikuspot on an S60 (pref an E71, which actually works, rather than a bloody N97, though).
..and then there's that excellent Mifi wireless access point device- the carrier STFUing and being a dumb pipe, like they should, nice cheap tethering. Interesting times indeed.
Silly, silly, silly Finns?
Where is there positive development?
6,073,036, "Mobile station with touch input having automatic symbol magnification function," 2000, which is a rather straightforward description of how a touch-screen display works
Sounds more like the action of the virtual keyboard showing a large version of the currently touched key when you drag your finger across the screen.
6,262,735, "Utilizing the contents of a message," 2001, which describes a method in which a command can be sent to a device by the user touching a "character-based message" - pretty much how any touch-screen display works
Sounds like the auto-detection of hyperlinks, phone numbers, etc in texts, e-mails, etc which cause specific functions to be carried out when touched (e.g. add number to contacts).
The rest would seem to be far too broad.
Nokia going down?
Depending on what figures you look at, Nokia has between 35% to over 50% of the worldwide mobile phone market. That share is more than twice the 16% share of the second place manufacturer, Samsung. Apple is long long way down that list. If Nokia is "going down", they have a long way to go before anyone else matches their market share.
My current phone is a Nokia and so were the previous two - I guess everyone has their own preference.
Nokia wants the iphone banned from export
I said it from the beginning, nokia is sinking further with each claim or law suits they launch.
The world laughed at apple when rumors started to leak about a possible ipod phone. There's no way in the world they can have in impact in a saturated market with a giant like Nokia and others. other predicted that it will fail badly.
Now, instead of copying to improve much like apple has achieved, the losers to be would rather sue.
I don't remember having heard apple making claim that they will beat nokia or match RIM. they focus in what they do and do it in a way that will seduce and capture.
I wish the competition would learn these basics.
The king is dead long line the king
Nokia, once the darling phone maker is most likely going to have to give way to the new king, Apple
Seems to remind me that you don't have to think too hard to equate what is happening to Nokia as tp what is likely to happen to Microsoft.
I'm disappointed in the quality of El Reg's reporting...
Doc Spock has gotten it right so far.
The fact that if you follow the links, read the abstracts rather than rely on the Reg's reporter's comments, you'll understand why Nokia has more than enough to move forward and can probably win this. IMHO not all are going to go Nokia's way, but enough to really put the hurt on Apple.
And to that point, Android is probably next unless they've already licensed them from Nokia.
You may not like Nokia's products and thats fine. But the law is clearly on their side because they were there first.
Since this is a flame against the author... the tombstone for el Reg....
God I hate fanbois
Most of the posts above are along the lines of Apple is good, go away nokia.
..I don't care.
Apple are notorious for filling vague patents and heavy handed lawyers. So only right they get hit by equally vague suits.
Me I have a £20 3 yr old motorola that goes ring ring.
The voice quality is better than most of the smart phones I've used and isn't the size of a brick and weigh more than a small family hatchback. But then again, I have no need to find out if one of my 3000 "friends" has just had a shit and is now off down the stairs to watch Big Brother.
Technology company changes focus from "Research and Development" to "Shareholder Value". History has proven the latter falls when this happens. When will the bean-counters ever learn?
OK - so Apple has, and later today Google will have, a lot to lose if these cases have merit. Yes, they are rivals but in this case both they and many others could lose out... eg. Sony.
They could jointly buy Nokia and do a Symbian with the IP...
Shame about Nokia, my 6310i was one of the best phones I've ever had (it had timed profiles which the iPhone, many years later, does not have!).
IMHO these patent claims should have a time limit - e.g. can only be raised within 2 years of a product coming to market - this would limit the effect on customers (e.g. like the SCO fiasco where customers were asked to pay).
Patents are a way of protecting investment on R&D. Why patent anything if you're not going to defend it? This filing is just a standard procedure among companies trying to defend their position. Motorola sued newcomer Nokia back in 1989, now Nokia is suing Apple.
Here are the details:
I don't think you quite understand.. Patents are mostly bargaining chips in situations like this. It's something of an admission of defeat on Nokia's part, all this. They've been sitting on these for years, with people "encroaching" on their "IP" a lot more, without a problem.. while they were king of the hill.
However, now they aren't, and they are being driven by the sort of suits who wreck companies, rather than drive technology. Too bad, I knew at least one Finnish employee of Nokia R+D (hey Terje, whatever happened to you?), and used to find their crazy technological chops inspiring. Now they are just another "me too" outfit shipping mediocre products.
Give me an iPhone or a Nexus One next, kthxbai, I don't want to fund Nokia's slow decline into mediocrity in even a small way.
Yes and No....
Patents are both bargaining chips and are also used to protect IP (Intellectual Property).
In this case, Nokia was ahead of the curve. Sure Symbian based products are long in the tooth and not as nice as alternatives. But that's besides the point. Nokia created a lot of the tech we see today. Regardless of how well they implemented these ideas, they were implemented and they work. (Read function).
IMHO the case has merit.
Is this about suing Apple to stop Apple? More than likely not. Its a way to bring them to the table and to actually license the technology. Does Apple have technology that Nokia may want to cross license? More than likely. Frankly I don't know but its a safe bet..
With respect to Nokia, they are revamping their products. Looking at Motorola, they went how many years since Razor to actually building the Droid phone? Nokia isn't dead yet...
Even if it's not dead, it sure smells funny... The whole line is moribund, support is horrid, quality control is all over the place.. oh, and there's very little platform consistency.
I'd much rather it wasn't the case, it must be said.
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