Nokia sues Apple over iPhone

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45 Responses to “Nokia sues Apple over iPhone”

  1. Rob Beschizza says:

    The illustration is clearly part-iphone, part-n96. If you couldn’t tell it was a deliberate composite of the two (“this photo has been photoshopped!!!!!”) then perhaps it makes a stronger point than I expected!

  2. Scary_UK says:

    Notthe first time something like this has happened, Creative had the patent on the navigation system that iPods utilise. In that case it was sorted fairly amicably

  3. webmonkees says:

    Reminds me a bit of Atari’s overly broad patents they filed and then tried to collect on. I think the only one they really made money off of was hologram printing technology, which every one of you with a credit card probably own an example of.

    They even got a patent for “Hand held communication aid for the dumb.” I know, it’s a archaic term for not being able to speak.. But re-interpreted, they’d make a lot of license fees with just a IQ survey of typical (your favorite hated device) owners.

  4. Rob Beschizza says:

    I don’t think the iPhone is wild new magic, only that it was a novel product Nokia wouldn’t have made

    Again, I’m not denying that Nokes should get its cut. What’s interesting to me are the peripheral ironies–like how the patents involved end up influencing the ability of new competitors to introduce unrelated innovations to the public.

  5. mrkane200 says:

    Doesn’t this sound like a casual, almost unconscious acceptance of the idea that intellectual property exists to prevent competitive innovation?

    Or does it mean that innovators can be rewarded for their work even as others build on or improve their work? Why can’t Apple create a brand new phone and acknowledge that they’re standing on the shoulders of those who came before them by paying them a fair percentage? Maybe Nokia never could have invented the iPhone, but could Apple have invented it without all the effort and money Nokia put into the cell phone beforehand???

    • Anonymous says:

      So by your logic, we can pretty much throw out every copyright infringement case for music file sharing due to the fact that 99% of shared music never would have been possible without Chuck Berry. I like it. It’s like original sin. Now that everyone is guilty then we are all free. A great argument against copyright.

  6. frijole says:

    Its easy to hide behind “protecting innovation” when you’re talking about patents on the basic technologies, like GSM, CDMA, even all the way over to Monsanto’s patents on the genes in your body.

    This isn’t about protecting innovation, its a shakedown.

  7. 'berto says:

    I have bugger-all sympathy for Nokia when I read stuff like this:

    Nokia and Siemens provided surveillance tools used to bust Iranian activists

    http://www.boingboing.net/2009/06/22/nokia-and-siemens-pr.html

    Iranians say “no” to Nokia over reports of surveillance collaboration

    http://www.boingboing.net/2009/07/14/iranians-say-no-to-n.html

  8. Anonymous says:

    mrkane200
    Doesn’t this sound like a casual, almost unconscious acceptance of the idea that intellectual property exists to prevent competitive innovation?
    Or does it mean that innovators can be rewarded for their work even as others build on or improve their work? Why can’t Apple create a brand new phone and acknowledge that they’re standing on the shoulders of those who came before them by paying them a fair percentage? Maybe Nokia never could have invented the iPhone, but could Apple have invented it without all the effort and money Nokia put into the cell phone beforehand???

    —-

    mrkane200, there is such a thing as an improvement on an existing patent – one can get patents or make products that do not infringe by improving something. That does not mean that you have to pay the patentee who owns the original patent.

  9. Rob Beschizza says:

    It depends on the quality of the patents.

    Also, it’s worth pointing out that the numbers here aren’t significant to either party. Bet a dollar it’ll end quickly in a settlement and cross-licensing!

  10. robcat2075 says:

    The tone of this post seems to be that Apple originated the mobile phone and is being attacked by patent holders who never could have made a mobile phone themselves.

    You are aware that mobile phones, with data screens even, were around for years before Apple jumped on the bandwagon, right?

    Because Apple adds a nicer screen, they can just screw everyone else that invented all the other stuff that makes the thing work? Really?

    • mdh says:

      I guess it sounds like that, if you assume you’re the smartest person in the room and everyone else is a moron who needs to be educated, by you.

      in other words, did you and I read the same post?

      • robcat2075 says:

        You’re right, you must be reading something else.

        the poster says “…the fact that Apple devised a product Nokia would never have cooked up in a hundred years. ”

        That pretty much indicates the poster thinks the iPhone (a mobile device with which people conduct conversations) is some wild new magic.

        And no, I didn’t think you were a moron when I wrote my comment.

  11. Digilante says:

    Usually it does not please me to see fights over IP (usually by some troll or evil company going against the small guy), but Apple tops my list of evil companies. I hope the iConman Jobs loses the shirt on his back after Nokia is done with him.

  12. technogeek says:

    Patents are a marketable commodity like any other. It’s a developer’s responsibility to research for things they might be infringing upon and to purchase the appropriate license. Generally companies don’t overcharge for basic patents because they want to keep the income stream going rather than drive folks to invent a different solution.

    Large companies play the game just a bit differently. They have a deep enough patent portfolio that they can respond with “OK, how many of ours are _you_ using, and how much are they worth to you?” That too, actually, tends to help keep the licencing price for any one patent down to something reasonable.

    So an occasional public spat about who’s using what is an entirely normal part of doing business, and probably not very significant — they’ll almost certainly figure out whether it’s really an issue or not and settle out of court. If it actually goes to trial, _that’s_ when things get interesting.

    As far as the fairness of patents: They’re a lot better than the current incarnation of copyright. They have a much shorter lifespan, can be renewed only once, and then explicitly fall into the public domain — with fairly full disclosure having been required in order to get the patent in the first place. That really isn’t a bad tradeoff between letting people profit from innovation (and thus encouraging it) and making sure it becomes available to everyone in a reasonably short time.

    Admittedly, patents can also be abused. I’m skeptical about software patents, business-process patents, and genetic patents — even though my name is on several. If copyright hadn’t been butchered, I would argue that copyright would be more appropriate for most of those. But with the situation being as it is, patents may actually be a more socially-responsible choice.

  13. Anonymous says:

    If this were about the interface then yes it would be a shake down. But this is about apple using older tech – not improved at all- that someone else did the research into making hard silicon for, and apple hasn’t paid the licensing for it.

  14. JT Montreal says:

    Oh yes, boo-hoo, a poor startup like Apple can’t break into the patent-encumbered field dominated by giants like Nokia, Motorola, Nortel, Siemens, HTC, and, uh, half a gazillion chinese, taiwanese, etc. handset manufacturers (hey, even Peek and Amazon are using the GSM or CDMA technologies – and thus are probably paying the licensing fees).

    AFAIR, the ITU rules specifically state that licensing has to be “fair and non-discriminatory”, so Nokia, Qualcomm, etc. can’t ask Apply any more (or less) than anyone else, in theory.

    Fact is, Apple didn’t pay hordes of wireless engineers, speech codec scientists, RF specialists, and protocol engineers for decades to develop all this stuff (the result of which can be found at http://www.3gpp.org/ftp/Specs/ if you think these are trivial things to figure out) so to think Apple could have created a phone from scratch is a bit daft.

    I’d be more sympathetic if Apple had less of a history to sue anyone who even copies the look of their stuff, never mind functionality or implementations; and this suit is entirely about basic, under-the-hood “hard” functionality.

    Note also they they are not seeking a ban on the sale of iPhones; it entirely about the $$$.

  15. Rob Beschizza says:

    Whether one likes Apple or not, the iPhone’s been a demolishing ball in the top end of the market: even RIM’s making blatant copies. It was introduced when manufactures like Nokia (and Motorola, especially) were somewhat down on the smartphone segment and openly derisive of Apple’s chances of getting anywhere.

    It’s not really the legal thing that’s interesting, either. It’s how far removed the technology covered by the patents is from the factors that actually represent innovation and commercial success. So there’s a comic inversion at play, as the iPhone’s clever design and Apple’s relentless marketing represent what really matters when it comes to creating and protecting a market advantage.

    Nokia deserves the rewards of its work, and this whole thing is really a haggling move rather than the result of Apple choosing a hill to die on. But to make that move, Nokia has to pretend that it has a vicarious creative stake in the iPhone’s development. This is just plain hilarious.

    • JT Montreal says:

      “But to make that move, Nokia has to pretend that it has a vicarious creative stake in the iPhone’s development. This is just plain hilarious.”

      Sorry, how does that happen? AFAICT, they never claim that they had any part in the iPhone’s creation – only that to build a phone that uses GSM, you need certain technologies patented by Nokia; just like I don’t think Intel (or previously Motorola) would claim to have had “a creative stake” in the development of a Mac.

      Incidentally, the patents in question have been revealed:
      http://community.zdnet.co.uk/blog/0,1000000567,10014275o-2000331761b,00.htm, and they can be looked up easily using Google Patents http://www.google.com/patents

  16. Brainspore says:

    From an outsider’s perspective it seems like mobile phones are way more encumbered with patent issues than personal computers. Anyone from the industry have insight on that?

  17. Anonymous says:

    Is it ironic that Nokia is debuting a netbook that uses tech from laptop pioneers like Apple?

    Or is that comparing apples and oranges?

    I don’t know.

  18. tagarth says:

    Groan nokia. Who cares if they invented something and then slapped a patent on it to stifle other people from improving on their tech. Remember, if you try to create and market a car that runs on an alternative to fossil fuels, GM will sue you (GM and many other manufacturers have countless patents on car designs fueled by alternate sources, like water). Patents in this context are not about protecting peoples work, this isn’t about the poor engineers at Nokia not getting their fair share, they’ve been paid plenty. This is about money grubbing and market control. Nothing should get in the way of making something cooler. Let Nokia make a better phone instead of wasting their time suing the companies that already are.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Smartphone is the keyword here.
    Prior to the iPhone, the market had been split between a couple of horrendous S platforms for that sake:
    M$ ‘Win32′ API constrained Windows Mobile and the 1980′s EPOC based Symbian. The latter has gravely undermined Nokia over the past year e.g. my E71 needs to restart every day, much like an M$ 3.1 15 years ago.
    Contrasting both those 1980′s patch-up based nasties,
    and having started the OS from scratch recently, with a clear priority for GUI, Apple won a clear edge.

  20. Mister N says:

    Apple rips Nokia’s patents.
    Apple makes the iPhone.
    Apple makes you sign and agreement from jailbreaking the iPhone which they used from ripped technology.

    the irony.

  21. robsan says:

    Nokia isn’t claiming “a vicarious creative stake in the iPhone’s development” as JT Montreal already explained. This isn’t about “oooh shinny”. Nokia invested *a lot* in the development of *radio* technologies and is a major player in making this particular area move forward. So if the fanboys want to keep streaming youtube videos faster and faster, Apple must recognize this and pay up. Or use bonjour on the iPhones, i bet the fanboys would love a private, Jobs-worshiping walkie-talkie network.

    • mdh says:

      As soon as you say ‘fanboy’ you place yourself (and your opinion) into an inversely obnoxious category. Who is worse? The fanboy, or the !fanboy?

  22. dculberson says:

    The fact that Nokia claims you can’t even make a mobile phone without utilizing some of their patents means that their patents are ridiculous and overly broad. Nokia also did not invent the mobile phone, and I don’t believe that everyone to ever make a mobile phone again should be required to pay them licensing fees.

    If the question is codecs, then fine, but beyond something directly and specifically invented by and developed by Nokia and identically copied by Apple, I don’t think that Nokia should have a taste.

    • Anonymous says:

      “The fact that Nokia claims you can’t even make a mobile phone without utilizing some of their patents means that their patents are ridiculous and overly broad. Nokia also did not invent the mobile phone, and I don’t believe that everyone to ever make a mobile phone again should be required to pay them licensing fees.”

      Clearly you don’t know anything about how modern technology standards work. Or modern technology, for that matter.

      Nokia holds the patent on GSM technology. The iPhone operates using GSM technology. Therefore the iPhone must pay rights to use it. EVERY OTHER GSM PHONE MAKER PAYS NOKIA. Why should Apple be exempt? Without GSM–Nokia’s technology–the iPhone would be unable to connect to AT&T’s network–or to any European network or most Asian networks. So as much as you all think the iPhone’s selling point is the fancy app store and interface, it would just be … an iPod Touch without Nokia’s technology.

      Think about Nokia’s patent like an airport fee. Airlines pay airports a fee to use their airports and gates, even though the airport doesn’t really have anything to do with the running of the airline or the invention of the plane.

      Apple could just as well have made the iPhone a CDMA phone (which is the network used by Sprint and (for now) Verizon). Then it wouldn’t have to pay Nokia. Likewise, an airline is perfectly free to build its own proprietary airport and not pay the airport fee. But if it uses the existing airport, it has to pay just like everyone else.

  23. Bade says:

    I’ve worked in both the standardisation of the 3GSM specifications, as a mobile operator and as a mobile phone vendor. If you use the specifications then you must licence the essential IP in order to use the specifications. As a previous poster mentioned the licence fee is equitible, and only about a dollar or two (if you include 3G) per handset. I remember when US operators started attending the meetings and the culture clash took over a year to finally pan out. Europe is built on collaborative standards, for most things. It is normal for companies to work together (something Americans simply couldn’t believe). Motorola has a long history of innovation in the electronics and mobile field and some excellent engineers who contributed to the early standardisation of GSM and 3G, but the company couldn’t get it out of their heads that it wasn’t propriatary. All their previous products were. They would work all on their own developing handover algorithms, while on the voice codec side you’d have engineers from Nokia, Eriksson and some operators working together, wondering what the Americans were doing. So at the end different companies wrote different parts of the specifications, and the pay off was the IP for those parts. None would work independantly of the whole, so if you contributed, then you cross-licenced. Nokia could use the Motorola handover algorithms if Motorola could use the voice codecs. Everybody worked on the standards and everyone could cross licence fairly.
    Then I worked for a mobile phone company and had to find complete GSM subsystems to integrate into phones. If you went for a Siemens or Qualcomm chip, someone who actually attended the standards meetings then the hardware would usually come with the licence. Easy. We did try sourcing the hardware cheeply from China and buying the licence seperately, it was a headache and not really worth the $0.50 per device saving. You get what you pay for in terms of propper integration, testing and certification of the complete sollution. Unless you are Apple and use the shittiest radio chip from an almost-out-of-business chinese manufacturer who don’t know how to licence, test or certify their chips for use outside of China. It was zero surprise when the very first iPhone crashed the AT&T radio netowrk. The damn thing should never have been approved by the AT&T radio engineers, it barely complies to the standards and is a completely shoddy piece of hardware engineering. Apple should have their asses thrown to the wall for missing a fundamental part of the whole mobile phone industry. But as an American company I can see why they did it, but it is unfair, illegal and stupid.

  24. wallywilbert says:

    Nokia Doesn’t own Wi Fi
    As a proud Australian I have to point out that the Australian CSIRO invented and patented Wi Fi
    see link
    http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009/04/22/2549678.htm
    It recently received an out of court settlement from some major companies
    “The patent was for IEEE 802.11a and 802.11g Wi-Fi products, and the settlements were from Hewlett Packard, Intel, Dell, Toshiba, Asus, Netgear, D-Link, Belkin, SMC, Accton, 3-Com, Buffalo, Microsoft and Nintendo.”
    So maybe Nokia has yet to hear of this… be careful watch what you wish for Nokia.
    The iPhone has been a paradigm shifting device the folks at nokia need to shape up or ship out.

  25. Anonymous says:

    Hello all!!!

    Business and tech aside, i think there is a serious paradigm oversight, which has been pointed to in various comments. In the US, it seems that the mission is more personal, where in europe, it is more communal. I think the more directly involved engineers comments have been taken for granted based on this paradigm. I would just like to see the utopian ideal of collective progress, which i believe technology helps. Business, politics have been elements that have gotten us this far, but we have gotten to a point where these interupt more than they help or regulate. They rely on smaller thinking of “us/them”, when it is obviously a “we” issue.

    Thank you all engineers for putting up with our temporary lack of vision, and for your belief through the growing pains. I know we’ll make it…

  26. Zadaz says:

    Did Nokia -just- notice that Apple has made a somewhat popular handset?

    And unleashing this just days after Apple’s record earning announcement? Hunh.

    It just seems like a money/attention grab for a company that obviously can’t compete any more.

    • Anonymous says:

      It may indeed be a grab for attention, and it absolutely is a grab for money. In fact, it doesn’t really matter what Nokia’s motivation is in suing Apple or deciding to sue Apple now. At the end of the day, Apple stole from Nokia, plain and simple. So Nokia has a valid claim.

      Without Nokia’s GSM standard, iPhone would just be an iPod Touch. Unless it chose to work with Sprint or Verizon on the CDMA network, but then Apple would owe money to whoever holds the CDMA patent.

      It’s a bit like the guy who builds a successful online retail business using eBay. It doesn’t matter that this guy made superior products, used superior marketing and works to provide superior service, and it doesn’t matter that eBay really has nothing to do with any of that. You use eBay’s service, you pay eBay’s fee. Simple as that.

      • Zadaz says:

        Yes, but Nokia choosing to sue NOW is like waiting for your house to burn all the way down before calling the fire department. If they don’t want it to look like insurance fraud they should have called when they first smelled smoke.

  27. tros says:

    From that mangled ZD-net URL:

    5802465 – Data transmission in a radio telephone network
    6359904 – Data transfer in a mobile telephone network
    6694135 – Measurement report transmission in a telecommunications system
    6775548 – Access channel for reduced access delay in a telecommunications system
    7092672 – Reporting cell measurement results in a cellular communication system

    5862178 – Method and apparatus for speech transmission in a mobile communications system
    5946651 – Speech synthesizer employing post-processing for enhancing the quality of the synthesized speech

    6882727 – Method of ciphering data transmission in a radio system
    7009940 – Integrity check in a communication system
    7403621 – System for ensuring encrypted communication after handover

    I wish I could have patented these ideas like data transmission, and then sued the company that made something beautiful out of them. But only when my stock plummets (about six months after the release of gen 1).

  28. Robtuse says:

    Nokia’s own photos place more emphasis on the slide and multi-media buttons, which are almost exactly like the N81, which was designed at the same time as the iPhone.

    http://www.gsmarena.com/nokia_n96-2253.php
    http://news.cnet.com/8301-17938_105-9801788-1.html

    Yes, the N96 is an N95 for people who like the round-edge aluminum look that Apple apparently “owns” in the US… but this photo has been photoshopped, to make it look *more* like an iPhone. It’s nice to see Photoshop used to make something fatter, for a change, but the photo that Rob used is fan-boy propoganda.

  29. Anonymous says:

    As long as we are talking about patent shakedowns, remember that the only reason Android doesn’t ship with multitouch support is that Apple threatened to sue. The only reason the Pre ships with multitouch is that Palm has lots of mobile computing patents, and threatened to *countersue*.

    Nokia has a multitouch device coming out:
    http://arstechnica.com/open-source/news/2009/10/next-gen-nokia-linux-devices-will-get-multitouch-and-qt-ui.ars
    I’m betting they tried to license Apple’s UI patents, negotiations broke down, and now they’re taking it to court pre-emptively. This will all end pretty soon in a cross-licensing agreement (because the alternative is both companies having their phones sued out of existence).

  30. teapot says:

    Corporate America is going to eat itself with lawsuits.

    Pony up Apple – if you are using IP that belongs to Nokia, then you dont have a leg to stand on.

    mdh: the fanboy is def worse than the !fanboy? – the !fanboy? wouldnt exist without the fanboy, so the fanboy must be worse.

    wallywilbert: thanks for the links, I had no idea the CSIRO developed WIFI… though it is irrelevant as the technology in question here is not just WIFI.

  31. Bade says:

    @ Rob Beschizza
    like how the patents involved end up influencing the ability of new competitors to introduce unrelated innovations to the public.

    Broadcom stopped the sale of any phone powered by a Qualcomm CDMA chip last year due to their patent dispute. That was a total abuse of the patent system and stopped (as in zero) all sales of 3G Windows Mobile phones in the USA. As a (former) Windows Mobile manufacturer this blocked entirely our entry into the USA market and held up HTC’s entry onto AT&T. They could still sell to Verison as it wasn’t covered by the disputed patents.
    Our lesson as a European company? Don’t do business in America. The courts do stupid things. Note that Nokia isn’t stopping sales of the iPhone, which it is entirely entitled to do, because it was it a European company. We play fair.

  32. kattw says:

    I don’t like patent trolls, but this seems like something rather different. Whether Nokia makes a better or worse phone, they ARE currently in the market, they DID spend the time and, perhaps more importantly, money, developing the technology, and (I feel) they deserve to be compensated for that research expenditure when others choose to use the end product.

    No, the GSM/CDMA/whatevers don’t matter even a tiny bit to the actual success of the iPhone with respect to other phones. Except that Apple didn’t invent new technology, and without the old stuff, the iPhone would just be a larger iPod. They had a choice: use what’s on the market (and pay the patent fees) or reinvent the wheel. They chose half of the first option, and didn’t follow through.

    Again, this isn’t some patent troll who suddently dreamt up, say, ‘the purchase of products via web sites’, and tried to patent it and use that patent to extort money from everyone using it. This isn’t stuff that anyone or their mother could have figured out. It’s stuff that a bunch of engineers spent hours figuring out. And while the patent titles may sound broad, so do almost all patent titles. Then you get to the gritty bits, which are almost certainly the bits the Apple engineers looked at when they built their machine.

  33. Cefeida says:

    “The illustration is clearly part-iphone, part-n96. If you couldn’t tell it was a deliberate composite of the two (“this photo has been photoshopped!!!!!”) then perhaps it makes a stronger point than I expected!”

    Or perhaps phones produced by different companies often look very similar as they follow the same trends, from body shape to app design. Nothing obvious about that ‘shop, I’m sorry.

  34. Dewi Morgan says:

    Patent laws are there to encourage investment in innovation. They last for 25 years, no more, no less; they are not like the copyright laws which last for about 100+(rand()*100), ie “75+life”. I abhor copyright in its current form, but I would be a staunch defender of it, if it were for only 25 years.

    You invest a few thousand man-years into R&D, you can recoup that through market share and through licensing, without risking someone just cloning your chip and trashing you by funnelling the money they save on development on advertising.

    If anyone has a better alternative to encourage development, then I’m all ears, but for the meantime, Patents are the best protections we have.

  35. Julian Bond says:

    “Doesn’t this sound like a casual, almost unconscious acceptance of the idea that intellectual property exists to prevent competitive innovation?”

    Exactly and that’s exactly why copyright protection is necessary. But what’s missing is 4 words “For a limited time”. And for this industry at this time, “For a limited time” should be under 10 years and probably under 5. IMHO It *is* a good thing for society at large that innovators are protected from competition and given a monopoly on their ideas for a short period. But it’s also really important for society at large that this protection expires. Too short and innovation is stifled by the gorillas in the room. Too long and no new ideas are worth producing.

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