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Nokia Sues Apple For Patent Infringement In iPhone 367

Posted by samzenpus
from the we-did-it-first dept.
AVee writes "Engadget (amongst many others) reports that Nokia is suing Apple because the iPhone infringes on 10 Nokia patents related to GSM, UTMS and WiFi. While the press release doesn't contain much detail, it does state that Apple didn't agree to 'appropriate terms for Nokia's intellectual property,' which sounds like there have been negotiations about those patents."
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Nokia Sues Apple For Patent Infringement In iPhone

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  • I'll ask it again (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Locke2005 (849178) on Thursday October 22, 2009 @01:14PM (#29837197)
    Why are standards based on patented technology?
    • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Thursday October 22, 2009 @01:19PM (#29837295)
      Canned answer: "How else will we encourage innovation?!"
    • by EvilNTUser (573674) on Thursday October 22, 2009 @01:29PM (#29837457)

      Read the press release. Nokia has spent 40 billion euros in R&D over the last two decades. Wireless communication is probably not quite as simple as one click shopping.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Paolo DF (849424)
        I don't know... If you read the quote (copy&paste from BBC website):
        "The basic principle in the mobile industry is that those companies who contribute in technology development to establish standards create intellectual property, which others then need to compensate for," said Ilkka Rahnasto, vice president of Legal & Intellectual Property at Nokia.
        "Apple is also expected to follow this principle."

        It seems that is more of a 'gentlemen agreement' thing.
        I am not a native English speaker, though
    • by mea37 (1201159) on Thursday October 22, 2009 @01:53PM (#29837827)

      Because standards that lag current technology by 17 years would go unused anyway? So instead of having to interoperate with one system and therefore needing to pay royalties to one group of patent-holders, any device manufacturer would have to either (1) play to a niche market, or (2) address the fragmented market by interoperating with many systems that each work differently, therefore needing to pay royalties to many groups of patent-holders?

      Your question is reasonable when applied to standards that cover doing things for which there are alternatives unburdened by patents. In many areas (such as wireless telecommunications) that is not the case.

  • by Pieroxy (222434) on Thursday October 22, 2009 @01:17PM (#29837249) Homepage

    Once the iPhones will have all flown away [blogspot.com], Nokia will be left with noone to sue !!!

  • N900 (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) on Thursday October 22, 2009 @01:23PM (#29837331) Journal
    I wonder how many of those same patents are included in the Linux based Maemo OS that the N900 has.

    What exactly does that mean? If you have patents on some technology, but then release a device that implements them with code that's GPL V2 licensed? Does it mean that anyone can now use those patents royalty free as long as they use the gpl'd code? Or does it somehow invalidate them? Would GPL V3 change the situation appreciably?
    • Re:N900 (Score:4, Insightful)

      by s.bots (1099921) on Thursday October 22, 2009 @01:29PM (#29837455)

      It sounds like these patents are more at the hardware level - GSM, UMTS (typo in summary), and WiFi are all hardware level patents. I don't think this really has anything to do with software or the GPL, but with Apple trying to use Nokia-patented hardware technologies royalty-free.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Whalou (721698)

        UMTS (typo in summary)

        Thanks for the correction!

        I thought that uTMS was Nokia's answer to Apple's iTMS.

      • by terrymr (316118)

        I would imagine that Nokia is already collecting from the chipset manufacturers.

      • Re:N900 (Score:4, Informative)

        by oh2 (520684) on Thursday October 22, 2009 @01:53PM (#29837833) Homepage Journal
        All the mobile phone companies that do actual work on the technology behind it all like Nokia and SonyEricsson have the hardware patents. The Iphone is a pretty piece of hardware, but the only parts of it that are developed by Apple are the software parts and the physical design. All the protocols and the radio stuff is developed on a whole other level by actual engineers, not the almighty Steve and his designer cohorts :p
    • by gad_zuki! (70830)

      >Does it mean that anyone can now use those patents royalty free as long as they use the gpl'd code?

      The UMTS driver is going to be a binary blob, not open source.

  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Thursday October 22, 2009 @01:24PM (#29837351) Homepage Journal

    If Nokia couldn't sue Apple, they certainly wouldn't have developed the technology to make phones they could sell. They certainly need longer than a year to break even on their investment before Apple could use the tech to sell more phones to the public. There's no way Apple and Nokia would work together to develop a technology they could both use in their phones, if their competitors could use it after several months work adapting it to their own products. Patents must be granted for any length of time, no matter how much profit that "temporary" artificial government-enforced monopoly makes while locking the invention out from use by the maximum number of people.

    Right? No, that doesn't seem right to me, either.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      In the United States, under current patent law, the term of patent, provided that maintenance fees are paid on time, are: For applications filed on or after June 8, 1995,[1] the patent term is 20 years from the filing date of the earliest U.S. application to which priority is claimed (excluding provisional applications).[2] For applications that were pending on and for patents that were still in force on June 8, 1995, the patent term is either 17 years from the issue date or 20 years from the filing date o
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by TheRaven64 (641858)
      If Nokia's phones had to compete with phones made by people who didn't spend large amounts on R&D and just copied the technology, would they still be profitable enough to keep spending money on R&D? The point of the patent system is to reward companies that spend the money to develop technologies and, by extension, penalise those that don't. Apple produced a product using Nokia's research, competing with Nokia. Sounds like a fairly clear-cut case of the patent system doing the right thing, to me.
      • by Doc Ruby (173196)

        Nokia doesn't need unlimited patent time to recoup its money invested in the invention. That's the problem with the patent system: it doesn't limit the monopoly to what's necessary to protect investment to produce the invention. Instead, it grants these monopolies to maximize profit, even at the expense of the progress that is its only justification for abridging our free expression rights.

        If patents required an auditable statement of the investment at registration time, then expired the patent when, say, d

  • by Anonymusing (1450747) on Thursday October 22, 2009 @01:28PM (#29837427)

    Maybe Apple thinks the patents won't stand up in court. Just because 40 other companies licensed them from Nokia, doesn't mean those other companies actually considered taking on Nokia. Are those other companies as big and brash as Apple? Apple has an estimated market cap of ~$180 billion, while Nokia has ~$50 billion.

    • by hattig (47930) on Thursday October 22, 2009 @01:33PM (#29837497) Journal

      Maybe those 40 other companies licensed them as part of a broader licensing package, rather than specifically. Without someone doing an analysis of the patents involved, and how Apple have implemented the similar features (patents protect a specific way of doing something, not the something), we won't know.

      It'll end up with Apple paying a nominal fee and cross-licensing their multitouch and other mobile patents, so Nokia won't have to worry about them in the future, and thus can remain a relevant company in the mobile marketplace.

    • Are those other companies as big and brash as Apple? Apple has an estimated market cap of ~$180 billion, while Nokia has ~$50 billion.

      What does Market Cap have to do with anything? Market cap is nothing more than the perceived value of the company by the public based on the value of its stock. Apple is on a hot streak right now. Also, those other companies are going to be Sony Ericcson, Motorola, HTC, Palm, Qualcomm, etc...

      Nokia takes patents seriously. It resolved the Qualcomm problems with a $2.2
    • by saleenS281 (859657) on Thursday October 22, 2009 @05:36PM (#29840463) Homepage
      Given that two of the companies are LG Electronics and Sony... I'd say it's fairly safe to assume they could fight back in court if they really wanted to.
  • by Quiet_Desperation (858215) on Thursday October 22, 2009 @01:31PM (#29837475)
    Would you just do a spinoff site calls "SueDot" already?
  • Just like Cisco... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bkr1_2k (237627) on Thursday October 22, 2009 @01:34PM (#29837523)

    This will be another Cisco event where the case eventually gets settled out of court for some undisclosed amount of money... nothing to see here.

  • Presumed guilty (Score:3, Interesting)

    by realinvalidname (529939) on Thursday October 22, 2009 @01:36PM (#29837545) Homepage

    ...because the iPhone infringes on 10 Nokia patents related to GSM, UTMS and WiFi

    Nice presumption that Nokia's claim is valid. If this were any company other than nefarious, evil, proprietary-everything Apple, would the /. summary be so favorable to Nokia?

    • Re:Presumed guilty (Score:5, Insightful)

      by demachina (71715) on Thursday October 22, 2009 @01:45PM (#29837701)

      Since nearly every other cell phone maker has licensed these patents and Apple was negotiating to license them chances are pretty good Nokia's claim is valid. Don't think it has much to do with Slashdot bias.

      Presumably Nokia's licensing terms were unreasonable to Apple, this is just escalation of the "negotiating" process by one side or the other, Nokia thinks they will win and get more cash than Apple was offering in the negotiation, or maybe even Apple thought they will do better in court or with a counter suit over other patents so they provoked Nokia in to this.

    • I think it's ok to state the reason Nokia is giving for suing. They aren't saying they're right.

      • Re:Presumed guilty (Score:5, Informative)

        by realinvalidname (529939) on Thursday October 22, 2009 @02:00PM (#29837937) Homepage

        No, they really are saying exactly that. Look at the sentence: "Endaget is reporting..." (statement of fact) "...that Nokia is suing Apple..." (statement of fact) "...because the iPhone infringes on 10 patents" (statement of fact).

        I used to copy-edit at CNN, and this is a textbook case of convicting someone through sloppy writing. The summary should say "...because Nokia says the iPhone..." or "...because the iPhone allegedly..."

        Of course, the other funny thing is that most every other patent story on Slashdot howls at the ridiculousness of patent cases, if not the implausibility of patents themselves.

    • Re:Presumed guilty (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 22, 2009 @02:49PM (#29838563)

      Nokia has been making mobile phones since they were the size of a large brick. And created or co-created much of the basic hardware technology used in mobile phones today...

      I think i'll believe them when they say they invented and patented a bunch of hardware that apple swiped without proper payment.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nokia

      In todays world they are a pretty straight dealing stand up company. (compared to most others)

      If they say apple ripped them off. Apple most likely did.

      Hey.. see what not screwing people over and not ripping everyone off gets you? People believe you when it's important.

  • by pablo_max (626328) on Thursday October 22, 2009 @02:03PM (#29837989)

    Looking over these posts..it's amazing that how little people understand of the technology they use.
    Nokia's patents pertaining to GSM technology and UMTS have absolutely nothing to do with a phones OS but rather the 7 layers under it.

    Nokia has spent many millions over the years on GSM and UMTS. They are major contributors to the 3GPP standards body and have help in a measurable way to shape the technology.
    How can people call Nolia a patent troll because some company comes in years after Nokia did all the work and steals the tech?? Are you kidding me?

    I know it's Apple and the normal rules of the world should not apply, but for F's sake people. This is the reason we have patents! It's not some nonsense software patent.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by bill_mcgonigle (4333) *

      Nokia's patents pertaining to GSM technology and UMTS have absolutely nothing to do with a phones OS but rather the 7 layers under it.

      Yes, this is the prima facie matter, but usually there's more to it than that. Most likely Nokia has found that upcoming Qt features (or something related) infringe on Apple's IP. This is a corporation's way of saying, "we'd like to do a cross-licensing deal with you," especially if the other side isn't playing ball. In the end, Apple gets to makes its phones, Nokia ships

    • by Drathos (1092) on Thursday October 22, 2009 @03:38PM (#29839145)

      Granted, I don't know all the details, but the info I've seen about this makes it sound like these are all related to GSM, UTMS, and WiFi hardware. Since Apple does not produce this hardware themselves, why should they be responsible for licensing this from Nokia? The actual manufacturer of the related hardware (Broadcom and Infineon, IIRC) should be responsible.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by dangitman (862676)

      How can people call Nolia a patent troll because some company comes in years after Nokia did all the work and steals the tech??

      Because Nolia deliberately named their business with a similar-sounding name, and then tried to make claims on the patents held by Nokia?

  • Apple has a lot of patents on basic UI. They have for decades. Thankfully Apple is historically not a terribly litigious company (there are exceptions). But I'm certain that in todays patent system they have plenty of ammo against Nokia.
  • It is time for the FTC and the FCC to break up the illegal phone/carrier bundling that is so prevalent in the marketplace.

    If this happened, these lawsuits wouldn't matter.

    Let me but a 3G phone and use it on any 3G network.

    Let me buy a 2.5G phone and use it on any 2.5G network.

    Let the phone makers compete with the phone makers.

    Let the carriers compete with the carriers.

    Anyone tries to make a phone with proprietary technology that runs on only one network, let the market tell them where to put their phones.

  • by donguz (1198189) on Thursday October 22, 2009 @02:23PM (#29838263)
    Steve Jobs is the one who invented cell phones,
  • not surprising (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jipn4 (1367823) on Thursday October 22, 2009 @02:23PM (#29838275)

    Apple's R&D investment is far below industry average, and most of that is "D", not "R". Apple essentially doesn't publish and doesn't support university research. If all companies were as stingy as Apple when it comes to R&D, computer science research would be in deep trouble. Nokia, on the other hand, has the largest R&D investment in Europe, many times that of Apple.

    Apple can only make nice products because other companies and universities have invested a hell of a lot of money and time inventing the things that Apple then assembles into products. That model is not sustainable, and I can see why companies like Nokia are getting litigious over it.

    • Re:not surprising (Score:4, Interesting)

      by samkass (174571) on Thursday October 22, 2009 @03:10PM (#29838831) Homepage Journal

      Nokia's revenues are also twice as big as Apple's and they generate more profit per quarter than Apple. And considering Apple's revenues have doubled over the last 2 years, you have to give them some leeway for ramping up their R&D, which has in fact risen 55% in the last year. Apple isn't exactly resting on its or anyone else's laurels.

      Dell is closer in revenues to Nokia than Apple is, yet Dell spends almost half of what Apple does on R&D. HP is almost 4x as big as Apple yet spends less than 3x as much as Apple on R&D.

      In short, I think your statement that Apple spends well below the "industry average" (where are you getting your "industry average" numbers?) is specious at best. There are companies that spend greater percentages of their revenue on R&D and Nokia is certainly one of them, as is IBM and Microsoft, but Apple is no lightweight in the R&D department and NONE of those other companies are expanding their R&D spending as fast as Apple.

      • here are the numbers (Score:5, Informative)

        by jipn4 (1367823) on Thursday October 22, 2009 @03:43PM (#29839215)

        where are you getting your "industry average" numbers?

        The numbers come from Booz Allen Hamilton and Business Week:

        http://www.businessweek.com/the_thread/techbeat/archives/2005/10/does_rd_spendin.html [businessweek.com]

        Apple's R&D to sales ratio is 5.9%, computer industry average is 7.6%.

        Apple is no lightweight in the R&D department and NONE of those other companies are expanding their R&D spending as fast as Apple.

        Apple spends money development, but not much on research; Apple's research output according to the usual objective measures (publications and citations) is non-existent.

        • by garote (682822) on Thursday October 22, 2009 @05:00PM (#29840093) Homepage

          With all due respect, your statistic does not support your claim. "R&D to sales" is a measure of the effectiveness of a company's effort to convert R&D into sales. If that ratio is low, all the better. You originally claimed that "Apple's R&D investment is far below industry average". That claim has been refuted in the grandparent to this post. Now you want to divorce the "R" from the "D" to complain that Apple doesn't publish papers or have its papers cited. That's an entirely different subject.

          What's your point? If you want to argue that Apple is doing a disservice to the world of technology, you need a better yardstick than "papers published". Need I remind you that Apple basically invented the home computer, basically invented the PDA, and has recently completely re-energized the smartphone industry? Those accomplishments have had obvious penumbral effects.

          • by jipn4 (1367823) on Thursday October 22, 2009 @10:46PM (#29842425)

            With all due respect, your statistic does not support your claim. "R&D to sales" is a measure of the effectiveness of a company's effort to convert R&D into sales. ... That claim has been refuted in the grandparent to this post

            Oh, stop drinking the magic cool-aid and distorting reality. Apple's R&D investment is low in absolute numbers, relative to sales, and relative to company size. And Apple's research output is essentially non-existent by any objective measure.

            Now you want to divorce the "R" from the "D"

            I have consistently pointed out that Apple invests in "D" but almost nothing in "R".

            Need I remind you that Apple basically invented the home computer, basically invented the PDA, and has recently completely re-energized the smartphone industry? Those accomplishments have had obvious penumbral effects.

            Apple did none of those things. All their major products were copies of technologies and devices invented elsewhere, and Apple has gotten into trouble and disrepute over that more than once.

            If you want to argue that Apple is doing a disservice to the world of technology, you need a better yardstick than "papers published".

            I'm only pointing out that Nokia's lawsuit is consistent and plausible with what we know about Apple's actual R&D strategy.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by shilly (142940)

              Talk about selective quotation!! I just read the article you linked to, and who would have known it from what you've written, but the Booz report's conclusion was a glowingly *positive* reference to Apple's ability to spend its R&D on creating great products -- what the report calls "an innovation machine". This is the very same paragraph from which you quoted that Apple's R&D:sales ratio was below that of its competitors. By the way, that report was from 2005 -- the numbers may have changed since.

              I

  • by Tanuki64 (989726) on Thursday October 22, 2009 @03:07PM (#29838789)
    There Nokia presented among other new techniques the 'declarative ui' for Qt. Very powerful stuff. A dozen or two lines of code and even a mediocre programmer can 'recreate' most if not all of the iPhone user interface. In the past Apple did threaten to sue groups/companies when it thought they came too close to the Apple look and feel. In countries where software patents are valid Apple should have a very good stand. So I admit I speculate, but I would not be surprised if there was some sort of thread from Apple and this is the counter reaction from Nokia. Now they probably evaluate and compare their patents and if none of them has a clear advantage the problem will be settled more or less peacefully.
  • by joeyblades (785896) on Thursday October 22, 2009 @04:51PM (#29839977)

    Getting sued for patent infringement?... There's an app for that!

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