While Apple is battling Qualcomm for $1 billion in royalties, Nokia’s litigation filed in December of last year is finally progressing. It seems Apple may have another business to worry about, and this one is just as important as the Qualcomm case.
The U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) confirmed on Tuesday, January 24 that it will “investigate a complaint by Nokia Technologies alleging that Apple Inc. has imported smartphones, tablet computers and other electronics that infringe upon its patents,” as reported by Reuters. The official Nokia website states that on December 21, the company has “filed a number of complaints against Apple in Germany and the US, alleging that Apple products infringe a number of Nokia patents.”
The press release continues, “As one of the world’s leading innovators, and following the acquisition of full ownership of NSN in 2013 and Alcatel-Lucent in 2016, Nokia now owns three valuable portfolios of intellectual property. Built on more than EUR 115 billion invested in R&D over the past twenty years, our tens of thousands of patents cover many important technologies used in smartphones, tablets, personal computers and similar devices. Since agreeing a license covering some patents from the Nokia Technologies portfolio in 2011, Apple has declined subsequent offers made by Nokia to license other of its patented inventions which are used by many of Apple’s products.”
According to the New York Times, the pact agreed upon by both Apple and Nokia expired on December 31. It can be interpreted that the Finland-based company wants to strangle the Cupertino-based company, squeezing the blood from the stone and continuing collect payments from Apple. Apple, however, is accusing Nokia of extortion.
“Apple is saying, ‘we want to pay one low price and not have to deal with any of your patents again.’ Nokia is saying, ‘I don’t want that low price because my patents are worth more than that,'” Clem Roberts, an intellectual property lawyer at Durie Tangri in San Francisco, said to the New York Times.
Ilkka Rahnasto, the head of Patent Business at Nokia, said in the Nokia press release, “Through our sustained investment in research and development, Nokia has created or contributed to many of the fundamental technologies used in today’s mobile devices, including Apple products. 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.” In an official statement from Apple, the company 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 by applying a royalty rate to Apple’s own inventions they had nothing to do with.”
On December 22, the lawsuit expanded to 11 countries, where there are now 40 patents in suit, including displays, user interfaces, software, antennas, video coding, and more. Immediately following the lawsuit, sometime between December 24 and 25, Apple swiftly removed all of Nokia’s Withings products from its stores. However, it’s unclear whether this removal occurred in both online and retail, though the online removal absolutely did happen.
In April of last year, Nokia bought Withings — a French-based consumer electronic company responsible for Wi-Fi scales and other digital health and fitness gear — for $119 million in cash.
Evidently, this isn’t the first time Apple and Nokia have fought over patents. In December of 2009, Nokia requested the USITC to investigate Apple’s potential patent infringement. The agency agreed, sparking a two-year tumultuous back-and-forth between the two companies over patents and technology. In June of 2011, the two finally settled, ending the long battle with a patent license agreement expected to have a positive financial impact on Nokia.
At this time, the USITC said it had not yet made any decision on the merits of the case by Nokia, which is seeking a cease-and-desist order and a limited exclusion order in the case.
[Featured Image by Jack Taylor/Getty Images]