The cellphone business is patented up to its eyeballs. Dumped at ground zero in the wasteland of owned ideas, newcomers typically have to pay as much as ten percent of sales to the old guard. Apple declined Nokia's invitations to give it money, and as a result is now the target of a lawsuit filed by the Finnish manufacturer.
Apple, a latecomer to the cellphone industry, has won a considerable share of the higher end of the market, but it has limited intellectual property assets compared with rivals, when all vendors work under cross-licensing agreements.
Neil Mawston at Strategy Analytics said Apple could have to pay Nokia anything between $200 million and $1 billion for patents used in 34 million iPhones shipped so far.
The funny part, I suppose, is the implied conceit that if it weren't for Apple's illegal appropriation of its technology, Nokia's own chrome-trimmed touchscreen iClones might have existed (or even, heaven forbid, been released) within years of the iPhone's debut. It's weird to compare the ostensible purpose of patents with the fact that Apple devised a product Nokia would never have cooked up in a hundred years.
Reuters quotes an analyst as saying "It is almost inconceivable that someone can produce a mobile phone without using Nokia patented technologies." Doesn't this sound like a casual, almost unconscious acceptance of the idea that intellectual property exists to prevent competitive innovation?