Apple countersues Nokia, says N900, E71, S60, Carbide C++ violate patents

In October, Finnish mobile phone leader Nokia sued Apple, claiming that the iPhone infringed on ten of Nokia's wireless technology patents, and that Apple refused to agree to appropriate licensing terms for Nokia's intellectual property.

"Apple is attempting to get a free ride on the back of [our] innovation," Ilkka Rahnasto, Nokia's Vice President of Legal & Intellectual Property said at the time.

Today, Apple responded to the litigation with a countersuit, upping the ante by saying that Nokia violated 13 of Apple's patents, that Nokia's patents are not essential to any standard, and that Nokia is effectively scrambling to remain relevant in the changing mobile device market by charging bogus licensing fees and by copying Apple's iPhone design.

Apple pulls no punches in its counterclaim: "In dealing with Apple, Nokia sought to gain an unjust competitive advantage over Apple by charging unwarranted fees to use patents that allegedly cover industry standards and by seeking to obtain access to Apple's intellectual property. Nokia needs access to Apple's intellectual property because it has copied and is now using that patented technology.

"When mobile wireless handsets or cell phones were first introduced," Apple's counterclaim continues, "the technology focused on the ability to make and receive traditional voice calls. Nokia was an early participant in the development and sale of these traditional voice call-focused mobile phones. Over time, however, mobile phone technology converged with computer technology and other technology advances, including many advances pioneered by Apple...Today's 'smartphones' are sophisticated, portable computing devices with immense capabilities...Apple foresaw the importance of converged user-friendly mobile devices...designed a business strategy based on the convergence of personal computers, mobile communications, and digital consumer electronics, and produced...devices such as the iPod, iPod Touch and the iPhone.

"In contrast, Nokia made a different business decision and remained focused on traditional mobile wireless handsets with conventional user interfaces. As a result, 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 changed suddenly and [Nokia was] not fast enough changing with it.' (citation)...In response, Nokia chose to copy the iPhone, especially its...patented design and user interface."

The complaint finally declares, "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...iPhone while avoiding liability for copying the iPhone and infringing on Apple's patents."

In addition to being a harsh criticism of Nokia's business model, Apple's statement is rife with self aggrandizement. The frequent ellipses in the above quotes are sections containing references to Apple's "innovative," "enormously popular," and "revolutionary" products. This section of the complaint ends up reading something like Apple's incredible, amazing, awesome keynotes. The remainder of Apple's 79-page complaint -- the part that we didn't cite here -- refutes Nokia's patent claims and asserts 13 of its own.

Though no single device from Nokia is an out-and-out ripoff of the iPhone, Apple takes full advantage of Nokia's vast portfolio, and singles out a number of devices for their individual infractions. Apple singles out the 5310, E71, N900 by name, but includes the Series 40, S60 and Symbian platforms, Carbide C++ (because it's developed in an environment that enables the compiler to generate a GUI), and any Nokia product that identifies itself through USB.

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