Nokia sues Apple over iPhone 'free ride'

Apple trying to get a free ride by not licensing 10 patents, says world's biggest handset maker

Nokia today said it has sued Apple in federal court, charging that the iPhone infringes on 10 patents owned by the Finnish mobile phone maker.

The patents have been used by the iPhone since it was introduced in June 2007, Nokia said, and relate to several technologies "fundamental to making devices which are compatible with one or more of the GSM, UMTS (3G WCDMA) and wireless LAN standards." According to a statement from Nokia, the patents cover wireless data, speed encoding and decoding, security and encryption.

Nokia, the world's largest mobile handset maker by a wide margin, said it has invested about [euro]40 billion, or nearly $60 billion, in research and development over the last 20 years to acquire its patents. Approximately 40 companies, including "virtually all the leading mobile device vendors," have licensed those patents, Nokia added, but Apple has not played ball.

"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, Nokia's vice president of legal and intellectual property, in a statement today. "Apple is also expected to follow this principle. By refusing to agree [to] appropriate terms for Nokia's intellectual property, Apple is attempting to get a free ride on the back of Nokia's innovation."

Apple did not respond to a call for comment on the lawsuit.

Nokia's complaint, which was filed today in U.S. District Court in Delaware, has not yet been posted to PACER, the court system's electronic database.

This is not the first time that Apple has been hit with a patent infringement lawsuit over the iPhone. In November 2008, for example, EMG Technologies claimed that the iPhone infringed a patent that describes how to navigate the Internet on a mobile phone. In April, Taiwan-based Elan Microelectronics accused Apple of infringing two of its patents in the iPhone's multitouch technology .

Nokia declined to comment further on the lawsuit.

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Gregg Keizer

Computerworld (US)
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