Nokia Oyj sued Apple Inc. saying the iPhone maker infringed several mobile patents, turning simmering tension between the companies into a bitter public legal battle on multiple fronts.
Apple Inc. and Nokia Corp.filed competing lawsuits over intellectual property used in the iPhone and other Apple products.
The suits, filed this weekin the U.S. and Germany, mark the second time in the past seven years that the companies have squared off in a dispute over patents. In 2011, Apple settled a two-year patent case with Nokia and agreed to pay licensing royalties for use of some Nokia patents in iPhones.
NOKIA EXCLUDED SOME PATENTS FROM THAT AGREEMENT
In a suit Apple filed Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, the Cupertino, Calif.-based company argues that Nokia excluded some patents from that agreement and transferred them to third-party companies “to be used for extorting excessive royalties” from Apple. It asked the court to award damages and rule that Nokia breached its contract.
NOKIA SAID IT FILED COMPLAINTS IN GERMANY
On Wednesday, Nokia said it filed complaints in Germany and the U.S., alleging that Apple products infringed on 32 Nokia patents covering technologies such as display, antenna and video coding. The suits were filed with the regional courts in Düsseldorf, Mannheim and Munich in Germany and the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas.
Ilkka Rahnasto, Nokia’s head of patent business, said in a statement the company negotiated several years with Apple to reach an agreement on the use of the 32 patents before deciding it would take action “to defend (its) rights.”
An Apple spokesman said the company has always been willing to pay a “fair price” for patents covering the technology in its products. “Unfortunately, Nokia has refused to license their patents on a fair basis and is now using the tactics of a patent troll to attempt to extort money from Apple,” he added.
NOKIA WAS ABLE TO SECURE A FAVORABLE SETTLEMENT
In the previous patent dispute, Nokia was able to secure a favorable settlement worth an estimated $720 million from Apple
Florian Mueller, an independent intellectual-property analyst, said any impact from the new case on Apple’s business would likely be limited because it would be difficult for Nokia to get an injunction against Apple’s iPhones in Germany or the U.S.
Once the world’s largest cellphone maker, Nokia abandoned mobile-device manufacturing in 2014, when it sold its mobile-phone business to Microsoft Corp. for €5.44 billion ($5.86 billion) to focus on network equipment. But Nokia’s patents still cover technology used in many of today’s smartphones and tablets.
As sales of networking equipment are in decline world-wide due to lower spending by mobile service providers, Nokia is increasingly dependent on its highly profitable patent business. Last year, revenue from Nokia Technologies, the business unit that holds the company’s patent portfolio, amounted to €1.02 billion, or 8% of its total sales.
“The stock market wants to see that Nokia can generate some patent income because it doesn’t have much else,” Mr. Mueller said.
A year ago, Apple and Nokia rival Ericsson AB ended a similar patent dispute, saying they had reached a global license agreement.