Handset manufacturer Nokia has lodged a complaint against Apple with a court in the US alleging that the iPad and iPhone 3G products infringe on five of its own patents.
The patents relate to technologies for enhanced speech and data transmission, the use of positioning data in applications and innovations in antenna configuration that allow improved performance and save space, enabling smaller devices.
Nokia claims that these patents are important as they allow both improved performance and design.
“Nokia has been the leading developer of many key technologies in mobile devices,” said Paul Melin, general manger, patent licensing, Nokia. “We have taken this step to protect the results of our pioneering development and to put an end to continued unlawful use of Nokia’s innovation.”
The complaint has been lodged with the Wisconsin Western District Court, which has a reputation for dealing swiftly with patent disputes.
In 2006 the same court dealt with a dispute between Apple and Creative Labs over the iPod music player interface. The parties settled within five months.
“It should be no surprise that any new telecommunications device or application is the subject of a patent dispute,” said Andrew Sharpe, partner at law firm Charles Russell. “The whole history of telecommunications can be mapped out in terms of patent litigation, from Alexander Graham Bell's original patent for the telephone filed on 14 February 1987 challenged in over 600 lawsuits.
“These infringement cases are arguably more frequent in the United States, where patent law allows a broader range of inventions to be protected. Mere software implementing a novel algorithm can be patented in the US. This is not the case in Europe, for example,” Sharpe told DPME.com.
“In practice, these cases are usually settled and a licence agreement is negotiated, if the parties agree that there has been an infringement. For instance, RIM, the makers of the Blackberry, settled a patent dispute with NTP for a reported US$612.5 million in March 2006, following allegations that Blackberries infringed NTP's wireless email patents.”
Nokia claims to have invested more than $50 billion in research and development and holds in excess of 11,000 patents.