Free Newsletter

Apple loses patent fight to Nokia-linked troll

MobileMedia, which owns three patents originally granted to Nokia and Sony, wins surprise Delaware ruling against iPhone

By CAROLINE GABRIEL

Published: 14 December, 2012

READ MORE: US | Apple | Nokia | Patents/IPR

Nokia is Apple's bugbear when it comes to its IPR war. It had to sign a major licensing deal, favorable to the Finnish firm, last year and now a US jury has issued a shock verdict against the iPhone maker, which was found to have infringed three patents issued to Nokia and Sony.

The Delaware jury ruled that the iPhone violates three US patents issued a decade ago - two to Nokia in 2000 and 2002, and the other to Sony in 2001. The two firms then transferred the assets to a shell company called MobileMedia in 2010 - a common tactic since the current wave of IPR wars began, allowing big names to attack rivals in court while hiding behind specialist units.


Indeed, in May Google filed a complaint at the European Commission accusing Nokia and Microsoft of hiding behind patent trolls - which a recent US study found to have initiated the majority of IPR lawsuits this year for the first time. MobileMedia has already sued Google, HTC and RIM as well as Apple and the latest verdict will presumably make those players more ready to settle.

This latest decision highlights the troll issue, and also another increasingly disturbing hallmark of the current patent wars - the broad, even generic nature of many of the technologies at issue. These three patents are extremely wide in scope and include 'method and apparatus for incoming call rejection'; 'device for personal communication, data collection and data processing… also comprises a camera unit'; and 'communication terminal device and method for controlling the connecting state of a call into a desired connection state upon a predetermined operation by a user'.

Commentators say that, in the early 2000s, the US Patent Office was inclined to grant patents for almost anything, and this is allowing cash-strapped companies to try to profit now.

The jury has not yet awarded any damages against Apple, nor has the iOS giant said whether it will appeal.

Back in May, Google filed a complaint with the EC and the US Federal Trade Commission, alleging that Microsoft and Nokia were funding patent trolls in order to weaken Android's position and deter vendors from using it, because of the fear of high licensing fees or litigation. "Nokia and Microsoft are colluding to raise the costs of mobile devices for consumers, creating patent trolls that sidestep promises both companies have made," Google said in a statement at the time. "They should be held accountable, and we hope our complaint spurs others to look into these practices."

One transaction which had caught Google's attention was the acquisition of 2,000 wireless patents and applications from Nokia by Canadian licensing firm Mosaid, in September 2011. Mosaid is sharing the revenue from the IPR with Nokia and its key partner Microsoft. Nokia also sold 450 patents and patent applications to Sisvel in January.

Related Stories

Share

  • email story Email
  • print story Print
  • digit digit
  • facebook facebook
  • Twitter Twitter
  • Linked-in Linked-In
  • Comments (0)

COMMENTS

Add Comment
No comments yet. Be the first to add a comment!
MARKET PLACE

    BYOD: Market Analysis and Forecasts

    An in-depth insight into the rise of BYOD policies within the enterprise and analysis of the impact the trend will have on IT departments,...

    Voice Command, Control and Search on Mobile Phones: Market Analysis & Forecasts

    This report provides a comprehensive insight into the growing importance of voice command, control and search on handsets, analysing...

    Data Centre Network Equipment: Market Analysis and Forecasts

    This report provides a global assessment of the data centre network equipment market. Besides assessing the key market trends, sub-markets...

    HetNet Market Summary & Forecasts: Macro Cells, Small Cells & Wi-Fi Offload

    Carriers are struggling to cope with the explosion of data traffic on their networks, and the additional deployment of LTE and legacy...

    Over-the-Top Communications: Threats & Opportunities for Mobile Operators

    This report examines the implications of widespread adoption of mobile over-the-top IP communications for mobile operators, handset...

    Portable Gaming Consoles: Market Analysis and Forecasts

    This report provides a global assessment of the PGC market. In addition to assessing the key market drivers, market barriers, vendor...
WHITE PAPERS

    Satellite Phones: Will Dual Mode Help the Phoenix Rise from the Ashes?

    Satellite phones have followed an arduous path since their much-hyped launch more than a decade ago. The hype was followed by an e...

    Mobile Widget Platform Market Analysis: Understanding the Business Case and ROI

    This white paper presents an analysis of the mobile widget platform market, as well as metrics supporting a mobile carrier?s busin...

POST COMMENT

You must be a registered user to post a comment. or
Username *
Email *
Comment *