John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

ITC Investigating Nokia Over Apple Patent Complaints and Vice Versa

The U.S. International Trade Commission, which in December launched an investigation against Apple at Nokia’s behest, has now agreed to launch a separate investigation against Nokia at Apple’s behest.

Requested after Nokia accused Apple of unfairly benefiting from its wireless technology, the investigation will seek to determine whether the Finnish cellphone giant has violated 13 Apple patents and tried to copy the iPhone to maintain its status in the industry. As with Nokia’s complaint against Apple, the stakes here are quite high: A ban on importation of the products found to contain infringing technology.

News of the ITC action, which is to be completed in 45 days, comes as Apple (AAPL) steps up its legal campaign against Nokia (NOK). Last Friday, the company lobbed another court filing at Nokia, this one accusing it of antitrust violations.

Nokia, says Apple, misled industry standard-setting groups into including its patented technologies in things like Wi-Fi and then charged excessive royalty fees to license them. Apple’s position: If Nokia holds patents on technologies built into relevant standards, it has the power to raise their price and thereby exclude competition. And that’s exactly what the company did–according to Apple, anyway.

“Having suffered losses in the marketplace, Nokia has resorted to demanding exorbitant royalties from Apple for patents that Nokia claims are essential to various compatibility standards….” Apple said in the filing. “Throughout the negotiation process, Nokia blatantly attempted to circumvent its contractual obligation to offer non-discriminatory licensing terms to Apple.”

The complaint continues: “While Nokia said it was offering Apple its ‘standard’ royalty terms, Nokia repeated[ly] refused Apple’s request to substantiate that naked representation. Nokia refused to provide any information about what other licensees were for the same standards-essential patent rights and, indeed, demanded that any licensing terms between Nokia and Apple should shrouded in secrecy. Thus, despite its obligation to offer Apple non-discriminatory license terms, Nokia effectively denied Apple that opportunity.”

Apple’s legal counsel certainly seems to be earning its retainer this year.