Apple hits back against Nokia in patent row

Apple, maker of the iconic iPhone, hit back on Friday in a legal row with Nokia and countersued the Finnish telecom giant, alleging it had breached 13 Apple patents.

Apple accused Nokia, the world’s largest cellphone maker, of infringing the patents held by the Cupertino, California company.

“Other companies must compete with us by inventing their own technologies, not just by stealing ours,” Apple vice-president Bruce Sewell said in a brief statement.

The move came after Nokia in October accused its US rival of infringing 10 Nokia cellphone technology patents with the iPhone.

According to Nokia, the patents cover “wireless data, speech coding, security and encryption and are infringed by all Apple iPhone models shipped since the iPhone was introduced in 2007”.

Ilkka Rahnasto, deputy head of Nokia’s legal department, accused Apple at the time of “attempting to get a free ride on the back of Nokia’s innovation”.

Apple countersued in federal court in the eastern state of Delaware, where Nokia filed its complaint against Apple.

Nokia is trying to buoy a sinking position in the cellphone market by getting its hands on iPhone technology and charging “exorbitant” fees for patented technology allegedly intrinsic to industry standards, Apple charged.

Apple denied infringing on Nokia patents and rejected the notion that technology at issue in the Finnish firm’s lawsuit is essential to any industry standard.

“Nokia’s demands appear to be driven by declines in its own mobile phone business,” Apple said in a 79-page counterclaim filed with the court.

“Nokia has been attempting to use its allegedly standards-essential patents to help regain what Nokia has lost in the marketplace.”

Nokia posted its first quarterly loss in a decade in October amid falling sales. Analysts said the poor results were partly due to the growing popularity of the iPhone and Research in Motion’s Blackberry over Nokia models.

Apple reported record quarterly sales of 7,4-million iPhones in October.

Nokia made agreements to let its patented technology be crafted into industry standards and now has a “hold-up” power that it “abusively seeks to wield,” Apple argued in court paperwork.

If the technology is critical to standards, Nokia is betraying a commitment to license it on “fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory terms”, Apple maintained.

Along with demanding steep royalties, Nokia is insisting on “grantbacks” that permit the company to use Apple technology, the iPhone maker said in legal documents.

Nokia is already using Apple smartphone technology without permission, the California firm charged.

“This attempt by Nokia to leverage patents previously pledged to industry standards is an effort to free ride on the commercial success of Apple’s innovative iPhone while avoiding liability for copying the iPhone and infringing Apple’s patents,” Apple said in its filing.

Apple is asking the court to award it unspecified financial damages and dismiss the suit filed by Nokia.

Nokia told Agence France-Presse that it is studying Apple’s claim “and will respond in due course”. - AFP


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