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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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  • 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?
  • 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.

  • 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:I'll ask it again (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Paolo DF (849424) on Thursday October 22, 2009 @01:43PM (#29837647)
    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.
  • Re:I'll ask it again (Score:5, Interesting)

    by EvilNTUser (573674) on Thursday October 22, 2009 @01:49PM (#29837769)

    Because otherwise it would be crap? We're not even talking about sound compression algorithms here, but stuff that needs serious R&D. You think >10Mbps downlink for your phone comes for free?

    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?

  • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Thursday October 22, 2009 @02:01PM (#29837953) Journal
    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. Of course, Apple is free to devote some R&D resources to future mobile standards, and then they can avoid the license fees by putting up some equally valuable research for cross-licensing.
  • Re:I'll ask it again (Score:3, Interesting)

    by IndustrialComplex (975015) on Thursday October 22, 2009 @02:16PM (#29838191)

    If it becomes a standard, I'd like to see the patent holder paid an award at the moment for the creation of the standard and then the patent is released into the public domain.

    There are several problems with this idea.

    What if the standard never takes off, did you just pay a lot for a useless patent?

    Or, what if your patent is useful outside of the standard? You wouldn't want it to become public if you are licensing it for other uses.

  • 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:I'll ask it again (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 22, 2009 @03:03PM (#29838727)

    Nokia has spent 40 billion euros in R&D over the last two decades.

    Nokia spend so much on research, but what about the result of those research? Compare it with Microsoft Research. Beeng evil and all that Microsoft Reseach produce a lot of high-qaulity scientific papers every year, which cited and used all around the field. I remember quite a bunch of them. I can not remember even one paper form Nokia research. Computer Vision? Parallelism ? Machine learning ? What a they doing with all those money beside paying salaries to executives?

  • 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.
  • 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.

  • Re:I'll ask it again (Score:3, Interesting)

    by cream wobbly (1102689) on Thursday October 22, 2009 @03:17PM (#29838907)

    Ouch. That must hurt and you're making a mess of the brick wall...

    Did you even understand the context provided by the GP?

    Let's turn your question around: Why should a standard not for its adherents to pay royalties?

    Just a hint: we're talking about adopted standards that were developed in house by Nokia.

    One more question: Why should a company which has not had a significant R&D expenditure for the specific technologies in question not pay royalties to the company which made that expenditure?

    I agree that patenting ideas and concepts is ridiculous. I also happen to understand that even non-obvious algorithms can be arrived at without incurring significant cost. But good grief -- a product for which a company has invested billions should be something they can earn licensing fees from; even if it's a standard.

  • by Sandbags (964742) on Thursday October 22, 2009 @03:18PM (#29838913) Journal

    Apple doesn't make the chip, only the case holding it and the software using it.

    Dell doesn't make the chip, only the netbook with an integrated GSM adapter and Microsoft's OS and someone else's drivers using it. They're not paying nokia either, but yet, no lawsuit there?

    Also, $40B is not what was paid on designing the GSM system, that's what was paid for its complete deployment, plus some finance magic to make the number much bigger... What is relevent only is:

    A) is apple a direct or indirect infringer on the patents? B) Was Apple aware if they are a direct infringer? (and if not, was due dillegence documented completely). C) If they are found in WILLFUL violation, or if the violation was brought to their attention and they made no reasonable offer for comensation, what is the "fair" royalty (typically defined by a slightly higher than average royalty based on the royalty collected from all other payers).

    If Apple is knowingly and willfully infringing, even prior to nokia getting involved directly (we doubt that unless Apple's patent lawyers felt thaey had a GREAT case getting the patent overturned, but if they did, they would have already started that process), then the penalty will be about 10 times the license cost, maybe a lot more. If they unknowingly infringed (after thorough and well documented discovvery and due dilligence, which apple is known to be one of the best in the world at), and they eventual even up in discussion with nokia, they'll be ordered to pay between a fair rate, and 3 times the rate tops. If nokia's patents get thrown out, Apple wins a legal payment for their expensive lawyers from nokia, and likely a countersuit for defamation, and nokia looses several strong patents they use as leverage to collect large royalties (which everyone else can also immediately stop paying).

    Given Apple's history of successful defence and strong due dillegence processes, Nokia might at best earn what apple is offering plus a small sum, minus their likely much larger legal fees (net loss vs apple's offer), or they'll loose a lot of money and some patents (and maybe other non-enforces but related patents too). This is not a good plan for nokia unless that have a GREAT case against apple they're not talking about (which they would be).

  • Re:I'll ask it again (Score:4, Interesting)

    by rtfa-troll (1340807) on Thursday October 22, 2009 @04:57PM (#29840043)

    There is sort of a hope out there that most voters will remain above the fray, but in practice this is a misplaced hope most of the time.

    most of the time the people sent to the standards are paid specifically to get what are called "fundamental patents" into the standard. That is where you have patented one particular way to do something (we do remember patents are about methods, not objectives) and you manage to get the standard to say that it will be done in the way your patent says it will be done.

    this is basically a fun drinking game. You sit there for hours stoney faced saying "no" all day for the first day and explaining deep technical reasons why your competition's patent won't work in this sitation. Then in the evening you go out and get seriously drunk. Whilst drunk you start trading off what things each person really wants to get in to the standard. Then the next day, those who can still remember what was said get their way with the standard and only serious and proper persuasive arguments combined with good blackmail drinking photos are allowed to change the agreements of the previous night on pain of ostracism.

    In telecomms standards this isn't even particularly immoral since the companies playing are all big boys who can take it. In the example before us we have Apple; about 9 on a scale of 1 to 10 for "intellectual property" evil and Nokia (about 7 or 9 but with a tendancy towards 10). Remember Apple is the company which inspired the League for Programming freedom [progfree.org]. In fact Apple is arguably worse than Microsoft (has done more in practice; but doesn't go in for unsubtle bully boy threats) and is only clearly less Evil than Qualcomm (rates 15 on our earlier scale of 1 to 10).

    Whilst I'm definitely anti software patent, and strongly believe in controlling the influence of other patents, this is a lawsuit happening to a company that really really had it coming to them.

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

    by mabhatter654 (561290) on Thursday October 22, 2009 @05:10PM (#29840179)

    You pointed out the most likely situation. Of those 40 companies some are chip makers, OEMs, tower builders, and telcos. What you get is a "triple dipping" situation where the "club" is demanding royalties from each part of the process. Chip maker has to have a patent for the "chip", OEM has to have a patent for the chip attached to an antenna using software, Tower builder has to have a patent to send and receive the signal, Telco has to have a patent to route the signal. Even though you have paid a patent on the "chip" that does everything and you put one at both ends, it doesn't count because you don't have the "whole" license... only the chipmaker's right to "build" the chip. You need to pay again to USE the chip.... This is how MP3 keeps being the undead patent zombie. They want to you pay to be "in the club" then you don't have to worry about such "technicalities" but then you usually have to cross-license ALL your stuff to get in.

    Apple most likely went directly to Broadcom and AT&T and cross-licensed with just those two players to share the patents they had access to (and added another 100 just for iPhone). Now Nokia is upset the other two players are letting Apple in without "joining the club" first. It's all a game of contracts that were for "joining the club" but have loopholes all over that you have to play ball only with the club and certain players get "more fair" treatment than others.

  • by sznupi (719324) on Thursday October 22, 2009 @07:22PM (#29841431) Homepage

    Their original stated goal was 10% market penetration. According to some reports, they achieved that in first two quarters of this year (worldwide, not just U.S.).

    See, the thing is...they didn't. They achieved 10% but only of the smartphone market (with the "smartphone" being in itself quite fluid term...under some definitions iPhone OS doesn't qualify; heck, SE featurephones might be close enough to fall into it under slightly different criteria, they sure do have multitasking). But smartphones are still a small part of the total mobile phone market; vast majority of devices sold are cheap feature phones.

    And here's the deal: Nokia pushes Symbian to replace S40. Android device makers stated their plans to bring sub $100 devices already in the next year (and how soon sub $50? Prices without contract of course) This will be when they will grow immenselly, they won't even have to really steal marketshare from each other. Apple doesn't even plan to compete, as you wrote. How long will they be able to find new market segments that keep them succesfull?

  • 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.

  • by jipn4 (1367823) on Thursday October 22, 2009 @10:52PM (#29842463)

    Show me significant, peer-reviewed research coming out of Apple, and citations thereof. It's almost non-existent. Microsoft, IBM, Google--they all have it--just not Apple.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 22, 2009 @11:50PM (#29842689)

    I don't like Apple either, their "we control everything" -approach is so antithesis to all we geeks like.
    But, it is clear that Nokia has lost its edge in the smart phone segment, therefore in the
    whole phone business altogether. It is hard to say, if they can grab the market back with
    Maemo platform, but Apple and Google have a huge head start. I have to say that given the probability that
    Maemo will tank also, I am rooting for Android. At least it does not have those STUPID mandatory sign your
    binaries thing like S60v3. Shit! Just learned that selfsigned S60 binaries do NOT have multimedia
    capability (no access to camera API etc).

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