Nokia opens new patent battle against Apple

on December 29 2009 11:24 AM

The world's top mobile phone maker Nokia launched a new patent broadside against Apple, escalating a battle for control of the smartphone market that has already led to a flurry of lawsuits.

Nokia filed a complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) on Tuesday alleging that Apple infringes Nokia patents in virtually all of its mobile phones, portable music players, and computers sold.

The seven patents at issue relate to Nokia technology being used by Apple to create features in user interface, camera, antenna and power management technologies, it said in a statement.

A Nokia spokesman said the firm expected the ITC to decide whether to pursue the case in around 30 days. Any possible injunction against the sale of Apple products with regard to the alleged patent infringement would not happen until early 2011.

Apple was not immediately available for comment.

The ITC action is the latest step taken by Nokia to fight off fierce competition from Apple, with the inclusion of the U.S. firm's iconic iPod and iMac products in the complaint marking an escalation from previous patent claims.

Both firms had earlier this year launched patent infringement suits against the other.

Nokia shares closed 0.5 percent higher in Helsinki at 8.85 euros, while Apple shares traded 0.7 percent lower at $210.11 at 1635 GMT in New York.

TIT FOR TAT

Analysts say the dispute, potentially involving hundreds of millions of dollars in annual royalties, reflects the shifting balance of power in the mobile industry as cellphones morph into handheld computers that can play video games and surf the Web. They have said it could take years to resolve.

Relative newcomer Apple trails the Finnish firm in cellphone shipments, but has gained a lot of ground against the market leader in the smartphone segment thanks to the iPhone.

Apple, which entered the industry in mid-2007, overtook Nokia last quarter as the cellphone maker generating the highest total operating profit.

In October Nokia said it had filed a lawsuit in the U.S. state of Delaware, accusing Apple of infringing 10 patents and trying to hitch a free-ride on Nokia's technology investments.

This month Apple struck back, saying Nokia infringed 13 of its patents and accusing the Finnish firm of anti-competitive practices. Nokia said the countersuit did not change anything fundamental in its own case.

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