Nokia (NYSE: NOK) is stepping up the patent fight against Apple (NSDQ: AAPL), with this round being played out on its home turf, Europe. The handset giant has filed suits against Apple in courts in the UK, Germany and the Netherlands, covering 13 patents in all related to the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch, and relating to some of the most distinctive features of Apple’s products, such as the swiping-screen navigation and the app store.
Patent suits are generally thought of as a way for companies to gain bargaining leverage over each other in licensing matters. However, unlike the so-called “patent trolls” that some allege exist solely to make money from licensing, Nokia seems to have a higher purpose:
These complaints from Nokia come at a time when the company is struggling against Apple in the smartphone stakes. Q3 2010 figures from Gartner confirm that Nokia is still the world’s largest handset maker, with a 36.7 percent stake, but it is losing market share, especially in the smartphone segment, to the likes of Apple, and more significantly Android.
Some say the drop is because Nokia is seen as lagging behind companies like Apple in terms of innovation. These suits, which cover such iconic features like the App Store, the swiping motion, and the scrolling function are, in a way, an attempt to demonstrate that in fact Nokia has been in the game all along.
“The Nokia inventions protected by these patents include several which enable compelling user experiences. For example, using a wiping gesture on a touch screen to navigate content, or enabling access to constantly changing services with an on-device app store, both filed more than ten years before the launch of the iPhone,” said Paul Melin, vice president, Intellectual Property at Nokia, in a statement from the company.
It does lead one to wonder, though, why Nokia held on to all of this for so long and didn’t use the IP itself.
Two of the patents (scroll down for the full list) are also filed in U.S. courts; a spokesperson for Nokia declined to say whether the company will also file U.S. suits for the rest of the patents as well.
These latest suits were filed variously in the UK High Court, Dusseldorf and Mannheim District Courts in Germany and the District Court of the Hague, Netherlands, and follow on from a series of suits filed over the past year in the U.S with the International Trade Commission and in Federal district courts in Wisconsin and Delaware.
Click on the table below to get a full rundown of all the patents, where they were filed, and what technologies they concern: