Apple And Nokia Take Patent Fight To Next Level

Nokia (NYSE:NOK) has filed numerous complaints against Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) in recent days accusing Apple of infringing on Nokia patents. The patent infringement complaints claim Apple has not established licensing deals for Nokia technology used in Apple products. Nokia says additional actions are to come.

Apple and Nokia have long disagreed over licensing fees for Nokia technology. Nokia said it has negotiated with Apple for several years to reach an agreement on the use of the patents before taking action. Ilkka Rahnasto, head of Patent Business at Nokia, said, “After several years of negotiations trying to reach agreement to cover Apple’s use of these patents, we are now taking action to defend our rights.”

Nokia filed lawsuits in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Texas and Dusseldorf, Mannheim and Munich in Germany. Those lawsuits cover 32 patents, including display, user interface, software, antenna, chipsets, and video coding technologies. Nokia has also filed additional patent lawsuits against Apple in Finland, the U.K., Italy, Sweden, Spain, the Netherlands, France, China and Japan. To date, Nokia has filed 40 patent suits in 11 countries. The company said it has also filed a suit against Apple with the U.S. International Trade Commission.

Apple has filed an antitrust lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California against several patent assertion entities that it accuses of collecting excessive fees for Nokia patents through lawsuits and royalty demands. According to Apple’s complaint: “The driving force behind Nokia’s strategy was to diffuse its patent portfolio and place it in the hands of PAEs.” Apple asked the court to award damages and rule that Nokia breached its contract.

In 2011, Apple settled a two-year patent case with Nokia for an estimated $720 million and agreed to pay licensing royalties for use of some Nokia patents in iPhones. Apple is now arguing that Nokia excluded some patents from that agreement and transferred them to third-party companies. An Apple spokesman said, “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.”

Apple claims that Nokia’s failing cellphone business has prompted Nokia to get out of licensing deals for essential patents by transferring patents to patent assertion entities. Nokia abandoned mobile-device manufacturing in 2014, when it sold its mobile-phone business to Microsoft Corp. for $5.86 billion. The company said then that it was shifting its focus to network equipment.

Nokia is increasingly dependent on its highly profitable patent business, as sales of networking equipment are in decline worldwide. Nokia’s patents still cover technology used in many of today’s smartphones and tablets. Apple also filed a lawsuit in London arguing that Nokia is refusing to license patents on a fair and reasonable basis.