Nokia vs Apple over iPhone and iPad Patents Continue

Jan 11, 2011

By Kerrie Spencer, staff technology writer – January 11, 2011

Patent infringement lawsuits in the wireless industry are typically hot issues, and last an extended period of time. It often takes years to sort them out. This suit is a prime example.

Nokia has taken off the gloves and is going to town yet again in their drive to get Apple to stop swiping their wireless technology and ideas. Now, Nokia has launched an opening round of patent infringement lawsuits against Apple in the Netherlands, Germany and Britain for infringing on patents used in the iPod Touch, iPad and iPhone.

This really shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to industry watchers or consumers, since these lawsuits are just the latest in a whole series of suits. To be precise, there are already 24 lawsuits filed with the U.S. International Trade Commission and with federal courts in Wisconsin and Delaware. This latest action adds another 13 lawsuits to the volatile mix.

This dispute first started in October of 2009, when Nokia filed their first patent infringement suit against Apple. And the suits continue, even as Apple launches the much-anticipated Verizon iPhone. No one was really expecting there would be a quick resolution to the suit, as these cases typically take years to get anywhere. Nonetheless, there is certainly some action going on in some of these cases. After all, the wireless market is about as jammed with players as a flea market is on a good trading day.

Nokia is choosing to be confrontational with Apple for the simple reason that they want to protect and maintain a strong patent portfolio. Apple has fired back with their own countersuit, indicating Nokia was infringing on 13 of their patents. Amidst the finger pointing, one could actually forget what these suits are about. To recap, they include patents dealing with touch user interface, signal noise suppression, on-device application stores, caller ID, display illumination, chipsets, antenna structure and user interface.

While this may be about as interesting as watching paint dry, it is important to the companies’ reputations, research and development departments and plans for the future. Do any of these issues affect end users? No, not really, because what is going on here is that Nokia and Apple are locked in a struggle to win over those indifferent consumers; the consumers who just want a smartphone that does it all.

Nokia and Apple want to be the leading provider of the smartphone services such as e-mail, web surfing, the ability to update Facebook and check the weather. Does anyone remember when we didn’t have cell phones and the world ran just fine?

While decisions in these various patent infringement lawsuits will not be seen or heard about for several years, the battle continues to grab the market share that will boost profits for – well, for whoever can slap out smartphones with nifty new apps the fastest. Because really, we, the end users, do not care about patent infringement issues. We just want phones that work and do not drop signals or cost an arm and a leg. We are not really asking too much, are we?





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