UPDATED: Apple Countersues Nokia - Patent Pugilism Has Begun!


Remember when Nokia sued Apple for infringement over essential wireless patents? Us neither, but Apple sure does -- in a counter-suit which says Nokia is copying the iPhone interface. Says Bruce Sewell, Apple SVP and General Counsel:

"Other companies must compete with us by inventing their own technologies, not just by stealing ours"

And in the complaint:

"Nokia has rapidly lost share in the market for high-end mobile phones. Nokia has admitted that, as a result of the iPhone launch, the market has changed suddenly and [Nokia was] not fast enough changing with it. In response, Nokia chose to copy the iPhone, especially its enormously popular and patented design and user interface."

They remind Nokia of their EVP, Anssi Vanjoki's statement about the iPhone in 2007:

"[If] there is something good in the world, we copy with pride"

To which Apple responds:

"True to this quote, Nokia has demonstrated its willingness to copy Apple's iPhone ideas as well as Apple's basic computing technologies, all while demanding Apple pay for access to Nokia's purported standards essential patent. Apple seeks redress for this behavior."

Whether or not this leads to a quick(er) settlement and cross-licensing deal on both sides, it's interesting to note the "mutually assured patent destruction" strategy we (and PreCentral.net regarding Palm vs. Apple) have spoken about before seems to be holding true. If one sues, the other(s) sue back. Boom. Merry $&@#ing Christmas indeed.

UPDATE 1: Engadget reveals:

Apple also says Nokia wanted to cross-license Apple's various iPhone device patents as part of any deal, which Apple clearly wasn't will to do.

UPDATE 2: Official Apple PR on the lawsuit.

UPDATE 3 & 4: Roughly Drafted explains in good detail a theory under which Nokia wouldn't license their pooled patents to Apple under "fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms,” and instead wanted a cross-licensing deal with access to Apple's private (non-pooled) patents. Apple refused, Nokia sued, Apple sued back. (Thanks to JK in the comments).

[NokiaExperts and Apple Insider]

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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

UPDATED: Apple Countersues Nokia - Patent Pugilism Has Begun!


good, screw nokia. Im going to patent wireless technology overall and everyone has to pay me. What kind of BS is that?
Same crap as that St Clair company suing Apple over the camera because you point and press a button to take a picture. How ELSE do you do it!!
These blanket patents have gotten out of control and good for Apple to fight back against the stupidity of the system for granting these patents in the first place. You shouldnt be able to patent an industry technology everyone HAS to use and the industry is based on. All that means is the patent holder gets paid anytime a phone comes out from now until the patent expires.
Thats ridiculous and the USPTO should be ashamed for letting these kind of patents pass.

I'm not sure i'd be holding up Apple as your champion of fighting out of control patent behavior.

I agree. But since Apple is still - relatively - the little guy, and one of the only companies innovating for innovations sake, one can tend to agree with @jk point-of-view.

compared to Nokia and GSM phones Apple is an infant even with millions of iphones out there. No one should be able to patent an air technology that manufacturers have to pay them to build a phone for a carrier.
what does Apple hardware have to do with GSM technology patents? Arent the people that should be paying the patent holder the chipset maker or the carrier? Why should Apple be liable pay for merely assembling the parts?

This is all very laughable. I think all this legal action is ridiculous, but it only gets worse as time passes. Shouldn't someone be suing someone else for making a device that requires you to dial numbers to make a phone call?I know it is all part of business, but I still don't fully get why every company gets so butt-hurt when some competition arrives, no matter how much of a threat that "competition" is

I want to know what exactly nokia have copied from apple because being a previous nokia user I don't see any similarites or cases where copying has taken place. Currently nokias interface is miles behind iPhone os and can't think of anypart of symbian or maemo os which closely resembles apple. Oh and nokia haven't blanket patented wifi they spent millions possible millions developing certain wifi standards which every other phone manufacturor honors apart from apple.
I do agree however that the camera patents mentioned earlier are stupid and don't make sense I can't think of any camera phone or even just camera that doesn't use the patents mentioned

I think that its, for lack of a better word, retarded most of whats going on, but I like that Apple is fighting fire with fire. At least Apple's claim has some merit to it (Nokia stole Apple's design).


what does Apple hardware have to do with GSM technology patents? Arent the people that should be paying the patent holder the chipset maker or the carrier? Why should Apple be liable pay for merely assembling the parts?

Good point.
You would think that infineon would have paid all the royalties that needed paying. But alas, the more you dig into it this is not the case.
GSM is a consortium of manufacturers who got together to develop the entire system, top to bottom.
They each knew that they would have to license each other's patents, and they set up a clearing house to do this.
Then apple walks in, having contributed NO PATENTS at all and buys a chip here and a screen there, and cobbles together a phone. They thumbed their nose at requests to pay royalties that ALL THE OTHER cell related companies are paying each other thru the clearing house.
Apple simply refused to pay, just like they did when they stole all that open source stuff they built into Safari. Upon being dragged into court they decided to play nice with the opensource community, but apparently they have to learn this lesson all over again with regard to GSM technology. The difference is, Nokia can afford lawyers that are just as good as Apple's lawyers.
Apple hasn't a leg to stand on here.
Their counter suit is baseless, because virtually nothing of the Nokia interface looks like Apples.
Anyone who posts that Nokia Stole Apple's design knows nothing about the history of Smart Phones, and even less about phone design.

Nokia is a far bigger company in Gsm or cell phone market and i dont think they would risk their position in market by copying apple interface

"After Nokia committed its ten patents to various mobile and WiFi standards, it attempted to discriminate its licensing terms against Apple. Due to the success of the iPhone, Nokia wanted more money from Apple then it gets from other licensees, and also wanted open access to Apple’s private portfolio of technology used in the iPhone.
While Apple has contributed a variety of its patented technologies to open standards which are licensed under “fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms,” it also has a variety of technologies that are not related to any open standards. These differentiate the iPod and iPhone, and are sold directly to consumers rather than being broadly licensed to other technology companies to use.
Nokia hoped to leverage its pooled patents to gain access to Apple’s private patents, patents Nokia had already began using in its own phones, a grossly hypocritical move after alleging that Apple had stolen its technologies because it wasn’t innovative enough to develop its own."

  • Nokia wanted to charge Apple MORE to use the same patents than anyone else- discriminatory
  • Nokia, even though Apple contributed to open standards patents, wanted access to private patents

-Nokia supposedly has used private patent ideas in their own phones without permission
Sounds like Nokia is the one without a leg to stand on here trying to muscle the much smaller Apple and blackmail them into giving up private patents and access to patents for features theyve already used without permission or a license to do so.

If you think Apple will win this your crazy....Interface copying? Oh boy...more specifically they are referring to the n-900's interface---but every smartphone out there uses about the same type of interface and the only reason th go after Nokia is to get back at them for suing Apple--
I dont get it either why the f**k Nokia commecnt are flying around, they have always been a good company and made good phones
good job finding a site to back your story, is it true? I dont know, but dont think that by finding a random site that agrees with you is going to prove to anyone that you are correct
But we'll see what's what when the smoke clears