Nokia Corp., the world’s top maker of mobile phones, announced on Thursday that it had filed a complaint against Apple with the Federal District Court in Delaware, alleging that Apple's iPhone infringes Nokia patents for GSM, UMTS and wireless LAN (WLAN) standards.
The ten patents in suit relate to technologies fundamental to making devices which are compatible with one or more of the GSM, UMTS (3G WCDMA) and wireless LAN standards. 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, according to Nokia. While the move seems to be rather significant, it is strange that it took Nokia over two years to determine the infringement of its patents by Apple.
"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. Apple is also expected to follow this principle. By refusing to agree appropriate terms for Nokia's intellectual property, Apple is attempting to get a free ride on the back of Nokia's innovation," said Ilkka Rahnasto, vice president of legal and intellectual property at Nokia.
Nokia said that it had created one of the strongest and broadest patent portfolios in the industry, investing more than €40 billion ($60.1 billion) in R&D during the last two decades and built one of the wireless industry's strongest and broadest IPR portfolios, with over 10,000 patent families. Much of this intellectual property, including the patents in suit, has been declared essential to industry standards. The company said that it had already successfully entered into license agreements including these patents with approximately 40 companies, including virtually all the leading mobile device vendors, allowing the industry to benefit from Nokia's innovation.
Nokia has not issued any actual demands to Apple publicly. It is hardly possible that Nokia just wants to make Apple pay for radio-related patents, but the company may be interested in negotiations concerning general unification of mobile phones’ platforms.