Nokia sues Apple as patent dispute becomes bitter

Nokia sued Apple saying the iPhone maker infringed several mobile patents, turning simmering tension between the companies into a bitter public legal battle.

The Finland-based company said Apple agreed to license patented inventions in 2011 but has refused to extend those expiring agreements. Nokia filed complaints with the German Regional Courts in Dusseldorf, Mannheim and Munich, and in federal court in Texas.

The dispute is rooted in Nokia’s demise as the world’s largest phone maker. Since selling its handset business, the company has focused on networking.

It’s now tapping its patent portfolio as a source of income, rather than as a cross-licensing tool to protect its own products. Nokia’s intellectual property business added patents through its Alcatel-Lucent acquisition, making it a more significant profit contributor.

In the third quarter, Nokia’s technology unit, which licenses its patents, generated about 40% of the company’s total adjusted operating profit. Shares of Nokia have shed about a third of their value this year, while Apple have advanced 11%.

“Unfortunately, Nokia has refused to license their patents on a fair basis and is now using the tactics of a patent troll to attempt to extort money from Apple by applying a royalty rate to Apple’s own inventions they had nothing to do with,” Apple said in an e-mailed statement.

“We are standing up for inventors everywhere by fighting this flagrant anticompetitive practice.”

Nokia and its Alcatel-Lucent US unit filed two lawsuits against Apple in federal court in Marshall, Texas, claiming patent violations related to products including the iPhone, iPad, iPod, Apple Watch, Mac computers and digital media players such as Apple TV. In the first complaint, Nokia said Apple “steadfastly refused” to license its patents for video coding at established industry rates.

The second suit accuses Apple of infringing 10 patents, many of which deal with transmitting and amplifying radio signals. Apple is also accused of violating a patent for translating natural language inquiries into database queries. Apple’s Siri digital assistant also violates a patent in this area, according to the complaint.

 


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