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Post Nokia’s lawsuits, Apple pulls Withings products from stores

Withings, a French company and now a Nokia subsidiary, sells health-related accessories. It was acquired by Nokia in April for $190 million to be integrated into Nokia’s Digital health unit.

tech Updated: Dec 26, 2016 11:13 IST
Anirban Ghoshal
Withings, a French company and now a Nokia subsidiary, sells health-related accessories. It was acquired by Nokia in April for $190 million to be integrated into Nokia’s Digital health unit.
Withings, a French company and now a Nokia subsidiary, sells health-related accessories. It was acquired by Nokia in April for $190 million to be integrated into Nokia’s Digital health unit. (Reuters)

Following Nokia’s impasse with Apple over patents that saw the former file 40 lawsuits against the latter in 11 countries, the iPhone-maker has started pulling all Withings products from its online and offline stores.

Withings, a French company and now a Nokia subsidiary, sells health-related accessories. It was acquired by Nokia in April for $190 million to be integrated into Nokia’s Digital health unit.

Several Withings iOS-compatible products -- mostly health-related connected accessories -- have been available at Apple Stores for nearly two years as part of a retail alliance, AppleInsider reported on Saturday.

The report also goes on to say that -- “Whether or not the recent Withings removal is related to Nokia’s shady legal dealings has yet to be confirmed, but Apple has in the past used its retail might as a retaliatory weapon.”

Nokia, last week, said it was suing Apple, accusing the iPhone maker of violating 40 technology patents. 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.