Apple Slaps Nokia With Patent Countersuit

Apple Inc. has filed a lawsuit accusing No. 1 mobile handset maker Nokia Corp. of infringing on 13 Apple patents. It’s a move to counter the patent infringement suit Nokia brought against Apple back in October.

“Other companies must compete with us by inventing their own technologies, not just by stealing ours,” Bruce Sewell, Apple’s general counsel and senior vice president, said in a statement. Very few details have been released as to the specific technologies at issue.

The Finnish giant Nokia filed the original suit in the U.S. District Court of Delaware, saying every iPhone model to date violates a full 10 patents for security and encryption, the handling of wireless data and speech coding. Nokia added that the patents enable compatibility to mobile standards and cited 40 other companies that are licensing the patents the proper way.

“The basic principle in the mobile industry is that those companies who contribute technology development to establish standards, create intellectual property, which others then need to compensate for,” said Ikka Rahnasto, vice president of legal and intellectual property at Nokia, in a statement. “Apple is also expected to follow this principle.”

Nokia said its $60 billion research and development investment during the past 20 years has yielded “one of the strongest and broadest” patent portfolios.

“By refusing to agree to appropriate terms for Nokia’s intellectual property, Apple is attempting to get a free ride on the back of Nokia’s innovation,” Rahnasto said.

The iPhone is eating into Nokia’s worldwide market lead somewhat, with Apple recently reporting a 41 percent increase in sales over last year. Research firm Canalys shows the iPhone going from a 2 percent global share to a 14 percent share in the space of a year, challenging BlackBerry maker Research in Motion Ltd. for the No. 2 position. BlackBerry has 20 percent of worldwide handset sales, according to Canalys.

Nokia meanwhile saw its share fall 6 percent in the most recent quarter, to account for 35 percent of handset sales, it said in its third-quarter earnings.

We shall see how ugly this “You stole!/No, you did!” argument will get.

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