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 …

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  1. Nick Woodruffe
    FAIL

    Ha!

    Nokia....the new SCO?

  2. dave 81

    Legal BS

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

  3. matty99
    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!

  4. Anonymous Coward
    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!"

  5. Lionel Baden
    Thumb Up

    patience is a virtue :)

    hmm that infringes our patent !

    wait for Massive user base

    Sue

    WIN :D

  6. Usko Kyykka
    Unhappy

    Right ...

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

  7. Dave Murray
    Jobs Horns

    Go! Nokia! Go!

    Teach them fruity patentards a lesson!

  8. Anonymous Coward
    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?

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Troll

    Troll?

    Ah well I suppose Scandinavians are the experts on Trolls

  10. raving angry loony

    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.

  11. Joey
    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.

  12. Dan 10
    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?

  13. Matthew 17

    in a nutshell

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

  14. Don S.

    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.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    Predictable.

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

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Coffee/keyboard

    signs of weakness

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

  17. chr0m4t1c
    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.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    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.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    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?"

  20. Mike Taylor
    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.

  21. Qux
    Thumb Down

    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.

  22. Ed Blackshaw Silver badge
    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?

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If at first you don't suceed...

    ... sue, sue and sue again.

  24. 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.

  25. Putonghua73
    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.

  26. Tony Smith (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.

  27. 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.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    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...

  29. Boring Bob

    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.

  30. Doc Spock
    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/

  31. keitai

    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)

  32. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    Deleware?

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

  33. Big Bear
    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.

  34. Geoff Campbell
    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

  35. Michael C
    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.

  36. Kurt 5

    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."

  37. pjnola

    @Ed Blackshaw

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

  38. Anonymous Coward
    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!

  39. Steen Eugen Poulsen
    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.

  40. Wrenchy
    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.

  41. Stuart Castle

    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.

  42. Jonathan Cohen
    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.

  43. Ramazan

    @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.

  44. thirstylocket

    Sour Grapes

    HA HA HA!

    Sour grapes Nokia!

  45. Anton Ivanov
    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.

  46. Anonymous Coward
    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!!!)

  47. Anonymous Coward
    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.

  48. Anonymous Coward
    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"

  49. Stoneshop Silver badge
    Alert

    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.

  50. Jonathon Green
    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.

  51. Sean Timarco Baggaley
    WTF?

    Just curious...

    ...but surely the cost of patent royalties would be included in the cost of the relevant components?

    Apple don't make their own GSM chips, CPUs or antennas. The component breakdowns published on the likes of ifixit show a bunch of mostly off-the-shelf components for the phone elements. (The multi-touch display is presumably their own IP.)

    Why are Apple being asked to pay *again* for something that should have already been paid for?

  52. Adam Starkey

    Hypocrites.

    Curious. I recall Nokia singing a wholly different tune when Qualcomm were getting all heavy with the lawsuits.

    Odd how times change.

    That said, Apple should just pay the damn license, unless they think they have Nokia over a barrel on some other technology, in which case both parties should just quit the public posturing and get back to the table.

  53. Steen Eugen Poulsen
    Coat

    @Sean Timarco Baggaley "Just curious..."

    Because Apple bought technology from a company that didn't really own what they where selling.

  54. Lance 3
    Jobs Horns

    Cross licensing

    Nokia has many patents, but even they cannot produce a phone based solely on their patents. In many cases, they bring their patents to the table and so do other companies, then they freely let their patents be freely used.

    In the case of Apple, they clearly don't want to pay. So, while there are plenty of people here talking about why isn't Nokia selling others, that is because they already have agreement, see above. Once Nokia is done with Apple, expect to see others taking Apple to court. The legal woes of Apple have just begun.

  55. PDA user

    Nokia had their time and failed

    Nokia lost its crown in a couple of Western European countries because of the iPhone.

    We have to thank Apple for bringing something closer to customers' expectations.

    Nokia made billions over the past few years. They did everything to maintain such cash cow and they deliberately delayed the launch of mobile handsets with similar computer tools and gateways with internet.

    So they can sue Apple for the iPhone, but they should be blamed for not being to bring something similar before!

  56. Stoneshop Silver badge
    Flame

    @ Michael C

    You say you know zip about the patents in question (where even superficial searching would have turned them up), yet you go on to hang a whole line of reasoning on that lack of knowledge.

    You know, that makes you quite the fuckwit.

  57. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Licensing for components

    Without wishing to comment on this particular case, it appears that lots of people want to comment on this story without having the first clue how IP works in the cellphone industry.

    Generally when you buy a component from someone which implements a standard, and parts of that standard require patent royalties, you have to take a license for that IP in order to sell a device with those components. The component manufacturer does not usually have a transferable license that they can sub-license to their clients.

    There are some exceptions but since most of the cellphone makers have their own IP rolled into the standards too, they're quite happy with this situation since they can cross-license. Cellphone makers who don't participate in building the essential infrastructure have to pay.

    This is why Nokia had to pay Qualcomm billions of $ lately after extensive (expensive) argument, it was decided in the court that Nokia's own CDMA chips infringed Qualcomm's patents. The end result is that current Nokia CDMA phones have a new radio architecture and Nokia have a license from Qualcomm to sell them. It's all business and the companies involved rarely take these issues personally once resolved.

    In this case, these are alleged to be patents on the essential parts of GSM etc. and they will probably be available on standard RAND terms.

    Complex legal situations like this are one of the reasons why the cellphone market is difficult for new entrants, among many other things like the huge complexity of devices nowadays.

  58. Anonymous Coward
    Happy

    A lot of people doesn't seem to understand...

    They're coming out now with this because the iPhone is doing well. Like any patent holders, they do not start suing people until it has proved to be a success. This maximises their chance to get as much juice as possible.

    Developing any product always has this risk. Yes the whole patent system is starting to get annoying particularly because when it was invented, globalisation is not to the stage it is today.

    With more people, more companies = more patents, which also makes anyone developing new products a nightmare if you have to go through each patent to make sure you're not infringing first - yes I think the patent system should be scrapped. As always, if you want to keep something secret it is best to keep it to yourself.

    In the end, yes, the small fries have no chance of survival, but think of it this way, the pyramid is only getting higher.

    I like Apple, I use their products, but at the same time, this lawsuit may actually slap some reality back into the world, companies who diversify is starting as a newbie in the field cannot become the boss over night, if you get what I'm saying.

  59. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Apple Fanbois ahoy.

    Almost all the above coments are along the lines of "nokia sue Apple because Nokia are crap...."

    Did none of you think that nokia have been in discussions with Apple adn they have finally broken down.

    I am guessing Nokia want to use the multi touch IP but Apple are refusing, so nokia will sue them over their IP.

  60. Mage Silver badge
    Alert

    The components

    Don't cover the royalties, always. Sometimes yes.

    Qualcomm have a BOATLOAD of CDMA related patents, and 3G uses CDMA.

    Also if you do your own ARM core ASIC or other Wonder Chip for Radio/WiFi/GSM/3G you need to pay royalties.

    I wonder will Broadcom, Qualcomm and others be suing Apple next week.

    Look at how long and expensive the Qualcomm/Broadcom and Qualcomm/Nokia spats were. Make SCO look like sunday school picnic.

  61. avalon111

    Nokia - too busy for that phone thingy stuff

    "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..."

    So they didn't quite have enough time free from all this to manage to design a decent phone?

  62. Anonymous Coward
    WTF?

    Formula Please

    To calculate exactly how f'ing brilliant a product has to be before owner's critical thinking faculties go flying out the window.

    I really don't get the fanboi mentality.

    Baffled and bemused

  63. magnetik
    WTF?

    Re: Licensing for components

    "Generally when you buy a component from someone which implements a standard, and parts of that standard require patent royalties, you have to take a license for that IP in order to sell a device with those components. The component manufacturer does not usually have a transferable license that they can sub-license to their clients."

    So if company A manufactures chips which company B buys and uses as components in a handset which company C buys and installs their software on to sell to the end user then all three companies have to pay Nokia for licensing? Seems a bit crazy to me, like VAT being applied along each stage of a sales chain.

    These patents shouldn't be allowed to last more than five years. I can understand the inventing company needing compensation for their R&D efforts but being able to charge for something that becomes a worldwide standard for decade after decade is plain ridiculous.

  64. Ascylto
    WTF?

    Money, money, money ...

    I would just like to assure you that THIS HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH Nokia making a loss and Apple making huge profits. Nokia have just decided to sue for patent infringement because ... well, they forgot to sue before.

  65. tiggertaebo
    WTF?

    Re: AC @ 19:08

    You want standards without patents? Why don't you fund the development of them then? The standards used in the mobile phone world have all cost companies like Nokia a significant amount of time and money to develop - you're suggesting that they should then give the results of all this hard work away to their competitors for free? And you don't see why they might not want to do this?

    Allowing IP in standards to remain patented (and reasonably licensed) encourages interoperability between manufacturers, which last time I checked was a Good Thing(TM). The alternatives are that we have lots of different proprietary standards and the consumer loses or you have an independent body create the standards which since it won't be getting any return on any investment will be default be done on a shoe-string which will result in poorer quality of work and certainly less innovation. Once again the consumer loses.

  66. Thomas Bottrill
    FAIL

    What El Reg fails to mention...

    ..., and what is mentioned on other sites and in the linked press release, is that virtually all other mobile manufacturers already licence these patents. Nokia isn't trolling or targeting Apple because they're successful - it's suing because Apple are refusing to licence the patents which everyone else seems to agree are valid.

  67. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    2 years

    Although I agree two years is a long time, let's think about this:

    It takes Nokia some time to establish if they feel the iPhone infringes - maybe 6 to 9 months

    If the negotiations then take a year or so to fail (not unheard-of) I can see it taking two years to file suit.

  68. Joe Schmo
    Stop

    patents

    this essentially comes down to Nokai having spent the last two years negotiating with apple over licensing fees.

    for some time now analysts who cover apple and nokia for investment companies have know about this and it will have no impact on share prices.

    Apple does not agree to the the amount Nokia is asking for and has stepped away from the table, hoping to put it before a judge who will decide according to apple a reasonable amount for the license of said patents.

    Point 1 - APPLE IS INFRINGING NOKIA PATENTS, tried and tested in previous suits

    Point 2 - Nokia will clearly not get the extortionate amounts they are requesting

    Point 3 - Apple will not have and injunction to stop selling icraps sorry meant iPhones

    Point 4 - Apple will cough up the cash sooner or later

    Point 5 - Things will rumble along.

  69. Rob 9

    Well, yes there is...

    Putonghua73 : "Is there a legal basis for classifying standards as intellectual propety? Any design / product based upon such standards, yes - but the actual standards themselves?"

    BetaMax, VHS, CD's, DVD's BluRay.

    They're all 'standards' used by many different companies but certain others hold the development rights to them. For many many years people and companies had to pay (Panasonic?) a royalty if you wanted to produce a CD or CD player. Don't know what the situation with that tech is now but i'm sure the legality of it remains.

  70. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Magnetik

    "So if company A manufactures chips which company B buys and uses as components in a handset which company C buys and installs their software on to sell to the end user then all three companies have to pay Nokia for licensing? Seems a bit crazy to me, like VAT being applied along each stage of a sales chain."

    It is more common that Company B (HTC, for example) will make their own software, or buy the software from Company C (Microsoft, for example) and sell the devices themselves, meaning that often only Company B will need licenses.

    However your scenario is where the magic of licensing and IP law can take us. That probably would not be the case where standards bodies are involved since there is usually a requirement for RAND license terms, and you might decide that such an arrangement was not reasonable.

    A similar situation can be seen in the PC world when looking at Intel chipset licenses and them being non-transferable when you purchase a company which holds one (sometimes). Logic need not necessarily apply here, if the contract disallows it.

    There are also often basket license arrangements made especially when standards bodies are involved, for example MPEG-LA.

    There are many thousands of these licenses involved in producing almost any electronic product today, and there seems to be no idea at all in the wider world just how complex it all gets. It is even more complicated by the fact that there may be no IP protection in the countries where the components are made and assembled, yet there is such protection in the markets where the end device is sold.

    In the end, only the lawyers really win, but this is the law right now.

  71. EvilGav 1

    @ Rob 9

    True.

    Sony/Phillips own the rights to CD's/optical media and receive, purportedly, 0.5 cents for every disk sold. Thats *every* disk, whether it's a blank or got something on it. The numbers go up *very* quickly.

    The DVD Forum was set up because of all the standards patents that Sony/Phillips own, in a bid to stop another Beta/VHS format war, the DVD Forum was set up - the disk and reading mechanism covered by Sony/Phillips patents and the compression algorithm/security owned by (i think) Toshiba - it's the compression system that gives us the odd disk sizes (4.5 and 9 GB), it should have been 5 and 10.

  72. Adam T

    It's A Big Boys Game

    Why does anyone care about patent spats between big corps?

    They're always at it - I doubt they'd be happy without a good healthy smattering of patent lawsuits (both giving and recieving). They love it!

  73. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    Nokia

    These comments about Apple taking over from Nokia are nothing short of a major giggle. Last year Apple made $1b profit, last year Nokia spent around $30b on R&D alone, Nokia is able to spend more money than Apple has on R&D, but the fact is they are spending insane amounts of money on researching new tech, then along comes apple who thinks "hey, we don't have to spend $30 billion every year on R&D, we'll just steal the patents from Nokia!"

    The iPhone is 3 years old now? (I have an iPhone btw, can't see the point of it, it sucks) so in that time Nokia would have spend $120b on research, Apple have a small share of the market in one segment, the Smart Phone (not that the iPhone is smart) which is rather insignifigant to Nokia who are switching from Symbian so expect the next generations of Nokia phones to do what everyone wishes their iPhone does. Now to go stick my iPhone on ebay.

  74. Bod

    @EvilGav 1

    And likewise with Blu-Ray, the patents belong to the BDA members (mostly Sony) and licence fees are paid to them.

    The DVD Forum were actually behind HD DVD, again to avoid the format war, and wanted to see the same outcome as DVD where everyone would get together and produce a combined format. Which would have seen again Sony and Tosh mixing it for a common format with their own patents in the mix. Despite all efforts Sony refused and we have Blu-Ray with large licence fees and patent ownership that are skewed heavily in favour of Sony. It's still a "standard" thanks to the BDA saying it is, but doesn't mean it's a free for all. Which is why China said "stuff that" and made CBHD instead (essentiall HD DVD slightly modified and rebranded with low licence costs).

  75. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Complacent and Bitter

    Nokia just lost the plot same as Motorola - they stopped caring. When their customers (including us business folks ) complained about lack of compatibility, poor migration & zero support we got that attitude you get in restaurants "that's the way we do it, we;re the market leader & no body else is complaining" Well my Communicator is sitting in a draw still it's box - never worked with my Mac, or Entourage and that's what I care about.

    Now Apple are delivering a better communications platform, and are kicking their backsides as the 'must have gizmo' they're feebly thrashing around in the bath trying to get the plug back in. As for their appstore OVI 'pants'.

    I'm not an Apple zealot, I'm a PC engineer, I just like things to work together seamlessly.

  76. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Standards without patents, please! (Re: AC @ 19:08)

    (Sheesh, everyone! Learn how to keep the topic, not change it to this @... stuff all the time!)

    tiggertaebo writes...

    "You want standards without patents? Why don't you fund the development of them then? The standards used in the mobile phone world have all cost companies like Nokia a significant amount of time and money to develop - you're suggesting that they should then give the results of all this hard work away to their competitors for free? And you don't see why they might not want to do this?"

    Nope. I'm suggesting that if people want to profit from their technologies being *mandated* as public standards - that is, everyone playing the game has to implement those technologies - then it shouldn't be like giving a bunch of companies tax-raising powers. That it takes an outsider to shake up the mobile business just shows how moribund it gets when a cartel gets to choose who can compete in the market.

    Besides, it isn't usually just corporations doing the work. A bunch of stuff comes out of public organisations, too, although it's more often than not siphoned off to "spin-offs" these days - your tax money at work, there, that is. So, I am almost certainly funding standards development, in fact - I get the bill for this every year.

    "Allowing IP in standards to remain patented (and reasonably licensed) encourages interoperability between manufacturers, which last time I checked was a Good Thing(TM)."

    Interoperability is a good thing, but it is in no way predicated by any technology being patented. In fact, where there is a choice of standards, it's highly likely that those unencumbered by patents will be favoured - you don't have to be an award-winning economist to understand why this might be. Web standards are a reasonable example of interoperability through unencumbered standards. Although you could complain about Web standards not being followed properly by, say, Microsoft, that isn't really anything to do with people not having to pay each other patent royalties.

    "The alternatives are that we have lots of different proprietary standards and the consumer loses or you have an independent body create the standards which since it won't be getting any return on any investment will be default be done on a shoe-string which will result in poorer quality of work and certainly less innovation. Once again the consumer loses."

    The Web is a pretty decent counterexample: a bunch of people created something of value for a greater number of people instead of thinking about how they could nickel-and-dime everyone all the time. Just consider the failure that the Gopher technology was, and how an obsession with "monetizing intellectual property" can lead to nowhere. Had some government mandated Gopher for public information services you'd more or less have the cartel atmosphere that pervades mobile communications today.

    Having patents on standards is like slipping some kind of earmark on legislation: it suggests corruption and nepotism of the form "we like these people, so here's a guaranteed revenue stream for them". Public standards, which is what GSM and UMTS have effectively become, should be all about interoperability and creating value for the public good - that's what we expect from our governments and legislators - not about appointing private gatekeepers for a given market, suppressing competition and propping up stuff that people would otherwise choose not to use.

    Nokia have spent time and money on stuff. Well, if they're so "shit hot", shouldn't they be able to make better equipment than everyone else? You know, innovating? Or is it not just more likely that people with patents get accustomed to "corporate welfare" and expect monetary praise for their past efforts in perpetuity?

  77. BristolBachelor Gold badge
    FAIL

    Death throes

    I've had almost every Nokia communicator. Unfortunately I gave my 9300 to my wife when I got my E90, and she won't give it back. The E90 is the last Nokia I will buy. I'd swear that my 9110 is a better phone (since I need two, I use both side by side).

    I would've never got an iphone, but to be honest I've started using my ipod touch for email, web, calendar and apreciate that it does what it's supposed to. I could imagine me getting an iphone once I can get it on a network other that Movistar. I'm not keen on on-screen keyboards, but it's easier to use than the one on the E90.

    Nokia should go back to making wellinton boots.

  78. Mathew White
    FAIL

    Eyeing Apple's Patentes

    Im wondering, now Nokia has brought out their large touch screen device, if they are eyeing up some of Apple's patents and want to blackmail Apple into a reciprocal licensing deal.

    The fact they have waited 2-3 years to do this is a bit of a joke. If your precious patents are being infringed then you stand up and say so - its not like they wouldn't have noticed within months of the iPhone being released.

    In addition the timing of Apple's record stock price and Nokia's record loss just make them look like a desperate company.

    Either way, fail Nokia.

  79. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    @AC 23/10/09 12:05 GMT

    "(I have an iPhone btw, can't see the point of it, it sucks)" Did you not play with it in store first? If it's that bad, why the fuck did you buy one in the first place!?! Are you one of these individuals with more money than sence that you troll like to frequently tell us about? What a ridiculous thing to say! In short, Bullshit! It's OK not like the iPhone, lots of people don't! As for the rest of your rant; I doubt very much that Apple thought "let's save a whole bunch of time and money by stealing from those hardworking chaps at Nokia!". I imagine that Apple spend quite a significant amount on R & D as well, being a tech company, that's what they do! As for the "market share" crap that you spout; Yes Nokia are currently leading this sector with an approximate share of 40%, which is down YoY 16%. Remember that is across several products, not just one device. The iPhone on the other hand has a share of approximately 10%, a growth YoY of 111%. For ONE device that, as you point out, is just 3 years old. Comparatively, Nokia have probably 6 or 7 "smart"phones on the market, which works out at about 5% per device, which isn't too bad. I'd ague that 10% for a single device in a market that is not the core business of the manufacture is far more impressive! Ask yourself WHY Nokia are moving away from Symbian too. Like it or not, iPhone OS has been a game changer. You can quarrel about its deficiencies 'til you're blue in the face, it's irrelevant, the fact remains that all the smartphone manufacturers are reacting to it, and websites like this one benchmark every new smartphone against it.

    On topic. I agree with Adam T. Patent licenses are like bills, you don't pay them until you have to! Perhaps there are sticking points in negotiations. It happens with Apple A LOT! Or are Nokia using patents that *they* should be paying for? Not out of the realms of possibility! Also are they angling for a cross patent deal? Losing a big share in the fastest growing portion of the mobile phone market and less that stellar financial reports, I'd be surprised if they weren't after something more!

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