Nokia Corp has said it has filed lawsuits against Apple Inc in 11 countries over 40 patents covering technologies such as displays, software and chipsets, in what can only be reminiscent of the Apple-Samsung battle.
Nokia said on Wednesday it was suing Apple, accusing the iPhone maker of violating 32 technology patents. On Thursday, the Finnish telecoms equipment maker said it had now filed 40 patent suits. Nokia’s acted after Apple’s legal action targeting the one-time cellphone industry leader a day earlier.
Nokia, which was the largest cellphone maker before being decimated by Apple and other Android handset makers, believes that the iPhone wouldn’t have been possible without it sharing its patents with Apple for royalty for the last few years.
The company claimed that it had filed the patents after putting in a lot of investment into research which it thinks need to come back from Apple.
The contract between Nokia and Apple that was scripted five years ago is about to expire on December 31. Apple has paid royalties during the last five years but Nokia wants it to keep paying for it along with licensing other additional patents that the Finnish company came up with.
However, Apple has said that Nokia’s demand qualify as extortion and is refusing to pay anything. But the lawsuits are the result of an impasse after two to three years of tense negotiations between the two companies.
“Apple is saying, we want to pay one low price and not have to deal with any of your patents again,” Clem Roberts, an intellectual property lawyer at Durie Tangri in San Francisco, told the New York Times (NYT). “Nokia is saying, ‘I don’t want that low price because my patents are worth more than that.’”
Another industry expert, on conditions of anonymity, said that the impasse signifies the struggle of erstwhile handset players like Motorola, Ericsson and Nokia to gain from the booming smartphone industry.
“Obviously, the iPhone was not created on a green field but was built on what others created before Apple,” Florian Mueller, a German iPhone app developer and former consultant to technology companies, was quoted as saying by the NYT. “On the other hand, the iPhone was a paradigm shift. It was more of a mobile computer than a mobile phone,” Mueller, who has followed the cell phone patent wars, added.
Patent-makers such as Nokia can now use a US supreme court ruling nearly 10 years ago, which said that patent owners had to stop selling their devices if the patent was violated, to their advantage.
Nokia’s shares were down nearly 5% at 4.496 euros on Thursday as analysts warned a legal battle with Apple could hold up royalty payments that are vital to shoring up the Finnish company’s profits.
(with agency inputs)