Blame the Nokia-Apple Spat on Convergence

Nokia N97 and iPhone 3GS

Apple today filed a countersuit against Nokia, which sued it back in October over alleged patent infringement on several forms of wireless technologies that Nokia licenses to others. Apple’s retaliatory suit, which was filed in the U.S. District Court in Delaware and covers 13 patents Apple holds, illustrates in legal language how the convergence of wireless voice and personal computing is shaking up the mobile market.

Nokia, a leader in wireless voice, and Apple, a leader in personal computing, both have patents related to the technology needed to make today’s smartphones, according to the filing. Apple is arguing that Nokia won’t license its wireless patents to Apple on fair and reasonable terms, and that Nokia is using its wireless patents as a way to force Apple into a cross-licensing deal around its computing technology. From the suit:

This attempt by Nokia to leverage patents previously pledged to industry standards is an effort to free ride on the commercial success of Apple’s innovative iPhone while avoiding liability for copying the iPhone and infringing Apple’s patents.

TheAppleBlog has more on the spat, but it appears to be little more than a bargaining tactic since both parties have something worth licensing. The question is whether Nokia is asking for too much, or Apple is offering to pay too little. As companies increasingly put out connected devices and bring computing to even more of our existing gadgets, expect more of these types of suits and cross-license spats. Especially if one player feels it’s at a disadvantage in the changing market.

Image courtesy of William Hook via Flickr.

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