In response to a lawsuit filed by Nokia alleging infringement on 10 patents related to wireless standards and technologies, Apple has countersued based on 13 patents of its own.
In a short, acerbic press release, Apple General Counsel Bruce Sewell smacked Nokia down, stating that “other companies must compete with us by inventing their own technologies, not just by stealing ours.” That sounds strikingly similar to Nokia VP of Legal & Intellectual Property Ilkka Rahnasto, who said back in October that Apple was “attempting to get a free ride on the back of Nokia’s innovation.”
Nokia’s lawsuit related to GSM, UMTS, and wireless LAN standards for “wireless data, speech coding, security and encryption.” Apple’s countersuit (PDF) covers 13 patents on a variety of technical and eye-glazing minutia, from “real-time signal processing system for serially transmitted data” to “boot framework architecture for dynamic staged initial program load.” More obviously related to the iPhone, there are patents relating to the graphical user interface and touch-screen display, not that it matters which patents are named.
Normally, companies like Apple and Nokia protect themselves from patent lawsuits in the same way nuclear powers stockpile atomic bombs, the principle being mutually assured destruction through litigation. That principle may no longer apply. While Nokia and its Symbian OS still control the largest share of the mobile phone market, that share is declining. As a result, the company intends to halve its smartphone portfolio, and has recently begun closing retail outlets. Perhaps that’s why the company sounded a little like North Korea in making demands for licensing its intellectual property.
That appears to have been a mistake, at least if one takes Apple’s counter claims at face value. John Paczkowski at Digital Daily found the juicy bits first. After praising its own iPhone as a “revolutionary change” in mobile phones, Apple launched a counterstrike against Nokia’s lack of innovation.
In contrast, Nokia made a different business decision and remained focused on traditional mobile wireless handsets with conventional user interfaces. As a result, Nokia has rapidly lost share in the market for high-end mobile phones. Nokia has admitted that, as a result of the iPhone launch, “the market changed suddenly and [Nokia was] not fast enough changing with it.
Duck and cover, baby. Even better, Apple quoted Nokia VP Anssi Vanjoki in a conversation about the iPhone.
If there is something good in the world, we copy with pride.” True to this quote, Nokia has demonstrated its willingness to copy Apple’s iPhone ideas as well as Apple’s basic computing technologies, all while demanding Apple pay for access to Nokia’s purported standards essential patent. Apple seeks redress for this behavior.
It looks like DEFCON 1 is on.