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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?
  • Re:Two way street (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 22, 2009 @01:18PM (#29837263)
    I sure hope its someone who makes specific, actionable claims instead of this kind of general accusation. I.e., not you.
  • Re:Two way street (Score:5, Insightful)

    by emj (15659) on Thursday October 22, 2009 @01:22PM (#29837315) Homepage Journal
    Apple bad, Nokia good when we are talking about mobil phones. Nokias N900 has great Linux Comunity [lwn.net], and they are writing a Free cell phone communication stack ofono [ofono.org].
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 22, 2009 @01:24PM (#29837353)

    Do you know what "patent trolling" is? It's when people or companies register patents for technologies that they never intend to use or implement, for the sole purpose of suing others.

    Nokia does, in fact, make phones and other communication devices.

  • by hallucinogen (1263152) on Thursday October 22, 2009 @01:26PM (#29837375)
    1. Nokia invests over 40 billion EUR on R&D
    2. Every manufacturer apart from one pays Nokia for their hard work
    3. Instead of paying (like everybody else) Apple chooses to steal from Nokia
    4. Nokia sues Apple

    Is it really patent trolling?
  • 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 Viski (1647721) on Thursday October 22, 2009 @01:29PM (#29837451)
    And it seems they have tried to negotiate with Apple about licensing the patents. That's not something a patent troll does. They just try to go for maximum profit by coercing the others to settle the lawsuit or by winning in the court.
  • 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.

  • 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.

  • by Quiet_Desperation (858215) on Thursday October 22, 2009 @01:31PM (#29837475)
    Would you just do a spinoff site calls "SueDot" already?
  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Re:Two way street (Score:1, Insightful)

    by demachina (71715) on Thursday October 22, 2009 @01:35PM (#29837525)

    Symbian is such a primitive operating system I doubt its possible for it to infringe any patent that didn't expire 10 years ago.

    Qt on the other hand, that one is almost certain to be violating some patents, I wonder if it infringes on any Apple font patents.

    You can guess where this is probably heading it will grind through courts and backroom negotiations for years, they will either settle out of court and cross license patents, or maybe Apple will have to throw Nokia some cash. They have more than $30 billion in cash reserves if memory serves, almost as much as Microsoft so I doubt it will put much of a dent in their bank account.

  • Re:Two way street (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AlXtreme (223728) on Thursday October 22, 2009 @01:38PM (#29837581) Homepage Journal

    Popularity != Quality

  • 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.

  • Re:Presumed guilty (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nelsonal (549144) on Thursday October 22, 2009 @01:48PM (#29837743) Journal
    The Nokia founder invented pneumatic tires. I think they might be just a hair older than Jobs and Woz.
  • Re:Two way street (Score:5, Insightful)

    by idontgno (624372) on Thursday October 22, 2009 @01:49PM (#29837759) Journal

    Apple advocates may not want to play the popularity card. By that standard, MacOS must suck, cuz Windows derivatives are 18 times [hitslink.com] more popular.

    C'mon, I don't even like Apple, and I know better than to try to equate market share with superiority. In both cases, there must be some other explanation.

    Oh, yeah, marketing.

  • 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.

  • Re:Two way street (Score:4, Insightful)

    by TheRaven64 (641858) on Thursday October 22, 2009 @01:54PM (#29837865) Journal
    Because the N900 isn't out yet? If it's already generating one tenth of the iPhone sales as pre-orders then I'd imagine Nokia is incredibly happy. On the other hand, if we're comparing released phones to released phones, then I'd imagine that Nokia is quite happy with their 78% of the smartphone market and similar share of the not-so-smart phone market.
  • Re:Two way street (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sbeckstead (555647) on Thursday October 22, 2009 @02:02PM (#29837981) Homepage Journal
    Yeah I don't think cockroaches have anything on humans and there are way more cockroaches than humans.
  • by iluvcapra (782887) on Thursday October 22, 2009 @02:03PM (#29837983)

    Think about it this way: would you rather have a patented standard everyone contributes to or have Nokia and Samsung privately decide on something they'll use together and shut everyone else out?

    In many cases, as in the whole MP3 mess, the distinction between the two scenarios you provide is only a matter of degree... Nokia and Samsung "privately deciding to do something" and Nokia charging a smartphone OS vendor $12 a handset are indistinguishable, if, for example, you are the author of an open-source smartphone OS.

    If Nokia and Samsung had some sort of secret protocol, that would almost be better, because then it would just be a matter of reverse-engineering.

  • 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:Two way street (Score:5, Insightful)

    by lymond01 (314120) on Thursday October 22, 2009 @02:04PM (#29838003)

    Not that I've read the story or anything, but my guess is they made a bunch of the products that Apple has tucked in a shiny case with superior GUI. Apple may be standing on Nokia's shoulders here. Imagine you develop a teleportation device -- it would revolutionize the world. You patent it. Then Apple goes and builds a phone that you can point at an object and teleport it to a person with another phone, using your patent. They make billions of dollars because of it, but you're still broke because they didn't license your property.

    Is this a problem? Only if you don't think ideas are cheap. People invent and patent things all the time. But that doesn't necessarily mean money in the bank, if you don't strike a deal to make that money. Invention is the very first step and patenting is a way to merely a way to protect your idea while you go look for financing to make it real.

    Nokia made their product off their tech. It's not as popular as the iPhone. Do they deserve to get some of the iPhone's share of money?

  • Re:Two way street (Score:3, Insightful)

    by pak9rabid (1011935) on Thursday October 22, 2009 @02:04PM (#29838013)

    Actually, every big corp which holds patents MUST sue to protect their patents, or they will lose the right to them. If they do not do due diligence in protecting their patents, then eventually someone can use the patents and say in court that the patent owners were not protecting their patents property rights, so the patents were in the public domain. Patents only mean that you can sue to protect them. If you don't sue, you lose them.

    sed 's/patents/trademarks/g' and you have a valid assertion.

    IIMNAL

    You don't say.

  • by IndustrialComplex (975015) on Thursday October 22, 2009 @02:23PM (#29838279)

    Nokia is just angry that they are profits are down and Apple's profits are up.
    Source: CNN Money

    Profits tend to be down when people aren't paying you for your work. ;)

  • 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.

  • Re:N900 (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 22, 2009 @03:05PM (#29838775)

    There's not actually a driver in the traditional sense, no binary blob either. The cellular stack is running on a completely different processor than the normal operating system which runs on the general purpose ARM core. The ARM userspace talks to the cellular chip using a serial protocol, basically sending AT commands like in the good old days of modems.

    That's actually a very clever way to do it. It not only completely makes the questionable behavior of using binary kernels blobs unnecessary, but actually allows Nokia to give users complete open access (root) to the phone as there is no risk of someone modifying the cellular stack to be in violation of FCC or other regulatory bodies. It's a win-win for both openness and fulfilling the legal requirements.

  • 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:Two way street (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jhol13 (1087781) on Thursday October 22, 2009 @03:59PM (#29839399)

    Full POSIX ... so where is fork()? Or ksh (or any other POSIX.1 compatible shell)?

    I think you have no clue how diverse different POSIXes are.

  • by LucidBeast (601749) on Thursday October 22, 2009 @04:18PM (#29839603)
    I wouldn't buy Apple at $200 because I think it is really worth that. Over the years I've learned that the market has really nothing to do with reality, but everything to do with what people think that other people might think the value is.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 22, 2009 @04:32PM (#29839753)

    Apple has meaner lawyers than the other manufacturers.

  • Re:Two way street (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) on Thursday October 22, 2009 @04:56PM (#29840033)

    Popularity != Quality

    When talking about something as complex as a smart-phone, quality is not an objective measurement.

    Linux, for example, is technically superior to Windows, but its 'gaming quality' is very poor.

  • 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 Tanktalus (794810) on Thursday October 22, 2009 @05:23PM (#29840311) Journal

    Let's say that Nokia decided not to play ball, and just didn't bother researching. That, too, locks out small companies, because they can't afford the billion-dollar research budget to get there.

    Or let's say that Nokia decided to hoard the information. After spending the $1B, they decided to keep it a secret and not license it to anyone. The only way to get the technology was to buy it pre-made from Nokia. That, too, locks out small companies who can't afford predatory pricing from the monopoly.

    I'm not sure that small companies should get a free pass just because a big corp has spent a billion on R&D.

    At least this way, Nokia is likely to license their patents (because that's the only way to survive - eventually the patent runs out and they can't exact any money for it) for much less than the R&D costs, allowing smaller companies to get into the market, while Nokia spreads the R&D cost over many licensees, and ends up with a return on their investment. With many licensees, it also provides for competition in the end marketplace that, though Nokia may get a cut on each phone, will pressure phone makers to keep their prices down, or to provide unique features of value to allow them to charge more. Either way, the consumer wins: cheap phones, or pricier phones that do other things.

  • Re:N900 (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 22, 2009 @05:53PM (#29840657)

    >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

    Is this meant to imply that Apple doesn't have any hardware engineers? I doubt that's true in the least.

  • by slashdotjunker (761391) on Friday October 23, 2009 @12:38AM (#29842859)

    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.

    Mods, this post is intellectually void. Just because someone spent 40 billion euros on something does not mean it's worth 40 billion. That's circular logic and you can use it to justify anything.

  • by shilly (142940) on Friday October 23, 2009 @08:08AM (#29844539)

    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 also want to point out the spectacular idiocy of assessing the value of a *commercial* organisation's R&D in terms of research papers published. Has it not occurred to you that Apple may be -- like all its competitors -- doing some work that it chooses not to publish?

    Finally, to claim that Apple does effectively no original research and is only about development is just mindbogglingly silly and at variance with the facts. Apple's products of course draw on ideas and developments elsewhere in the industry, but the truth is, whether patent lawyers like it or not, there is nothing new under the sun and any idea you can conceive of has almost certainly been thought of by someone else. What makes the difference is making the ideas into something meaningful -- your moral universe in which "research is praiseworthy, development is to be sneered at" is both silly and draws far too sharp a distinction between the concepts. Why should it detract from Apple's achievement if some other organisation or academic had some kind of implementation of multitouch running? Self-evidently, Apple's was the first implementation that was well-thought-through enough to work for a typical consumer: the adoption curve for multitouch devices would show effectively none in use prior to the iPhone and many millions in use afterwards.

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