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Apple Seeks To Ban Nokia Imports To US 374

Posted by timothy
from the let's-take-this-outside-the-country dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "Cnet reports that the ongoing patent battle between Apple and Nokia has escalated, with Apple moving to block imports of Nokia cell phones to the US by filing a complaint with the International Trade Commission, an independent federal agency that examines issues including unfair trade practices involving patent, trademark, and copyright infringement. In December, Nokia filed its own complaint with the USITC alleging that Apple infringes seven Nokia patents 'in virtually all of its mobile phones, portable music players, and computers' and sought to ban imports of Apple's iPhone, iPod, and MacBook products. Responding to Apple's latest move, Nokia spokesman Mark Durrant told Bloomberg that 'Nokia will study the complaint when it is received and continue to defend itself vigorously. However this does not alter the fact that Apple has failed to agree appropriate terms for using Nokia technology and has been seeking a free ride on Nokia's innovation since it shipped the first iPhone in 2007.' An ITC investigation is a lengthy process, but it's possible that Apple and Nokia might reach some sort of settlement as suits continue to escalate between the two companies."
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Apple Seeks To Ban Nokia Imports To US

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  • by Amorymeltzer (1213818) on Sunday January 17, 2010 @02:16AM (#30796350)

    Is it really cheaper to sue for peace? I mean, can't the legal teams for both companies see this down the road and come to some sort of mutual agreement in advance? It'd sure save a lot of time and money, not to mentioning freeing the courts a bit. Why is it acceptable policy to sue instead of discussing?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Lawyers need to get paid, and this is the process by which they are paid.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by sycodon (149926)

      They need to just fucking cross license the patents like they always end up doing. Stop feeding the animals (Lawyers).

      • by sopssa (1498795) * <sopssa@email.com> on Sunday January 17, 2010 @03:26AM (#30796578) Journal

        They need to just fucking cross license the patents like they always end up doing. Stop feeding the animals (Lawyers).

        That is exactly what Nokia has been trying to do, but Apple doesn't agree to the terms (which are same for every other manufacturer too). And since Apple is infringing patents and doesn't agree to the standard cross licensing, they can't do other than sue.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by dangitman (862676)

          And since Apple is infringing patents and doesn't agree to the standard cross licensing,

          What's your evidence of this? Nokia alleges that its patents are being infringed, but that doesn't mean it's true. Same in reverse. Does the fact that Apple has alleged that Nokia is infringing its patents mean it is true?

          • That's what the case will decide?

          • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 17, 2010 @05:55AM (#30797026)

            Because every other company has agreed to Nokia's terms. I doubt that this would have happened if their claims were without merit. In addition, Nokia has no history of patent trolling. They spend massive amounts of money to research and are responsible for many of the most important inventions related to mobile data transfer. In addition, they license all their patents rather reasonably to all the competitors. Companies like Nokia are why the patent system exists.

            So, when Apple suddenly decides not to pay any licensing fees, I trust Nokia a whole lot more.

            • Because every other company has agreed to Nokia's terms.

              And Apple wanted to agree to the same terms every other company agreed to - but suddenly Nokia wanted more.

          • by ultranova (717540)

            Given the amount of patents granted nowadays and their scope, I think it's almost certain that any product infringes on at least some of them, the only question being which ones specifically. This rises some interesting questions about the viability of the patent system itself, as we approach singularity and technological progress goes ever faster.

        • by Serious Callers Only (1022605) on Sunday January 17, 2010 @05:57AM (#30797038)

          That is exactly what Nokia has been trying to do, but Apple doesn't agree to the terms

          That is exactly what Apple has been trying to do, but Nokia doesn't agree to the terms.

          Disagreement works both ways, unless you believe a priori that one side is right, and we're not going to be able to tell from some news story (on Slashdot, no less!) whether the many patents in question are valid. Good excuse for a flamefest though.

          • by obarthelemy (160321) on Sunday January 17, 2010 @06:48AM (#30797192)

            Other companies didn't seem to have issues with Nokia's terms, though ?

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by UnknowingFool (672806)
              From what I understand one of the sticking points is the cross-licensing. Other companies like Motorola, Sony have agreed to cross license their cell phone patents in order to get Nokia's cell phone patents. In Apple's case (according to Apple), Nokia didn't want just their patents related to cell phones but their patents related to everything else like multi-touch, computer technology, etc. We don't know the whole story really.
        • by peragrin (659227) on Sunday January 17, 2010 @09:58AM (#30797940)

          But apple buys it's GSM chips from qualcomm who charges extra to cover the patent licensing they have to pay Nokia for.

          NOKIA wants to charge not only the people who make the devices but every company who sells a products with that uses those devices.

          If Dell started selling a GSM adaptor for their laptops and bought those adaptors already made so all that had to be done was to solder it into the motherboards, Nokia wants the to charge Dell for selling those adaptors too.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Hungus (585181)

      They have been "discussing" this for some time now, if you had not noticed.

      Further, Apple and Nokia are not tying up normal or federal courts with this issue: The filings are with the ITC (International Trade Commission).

      The mission of the Commission is to (1) administer U.S. trade remedy laws within its mandate in a fair and objective manner; (2) provide the President, USTR, and Congress with independent analysis, information, and support on matters of tariffs, international trade, and U.S. competitiveness [usitc.gov]

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by the_humeister (922869)

      Won't someone please think of the lawyers?

    • by mjwx (966435) on Sunday January 17, 2010 @02:37AM (#30796420)

      Is it really cheaper to sue for peace? I mean, can't the legal teams for both companies see this down the road and come to some sort of mutual agreement in advance?

      Do you not think Nokia has been negotiating with Apple from the moment they released the iphone (3 years), they finally got sick of the delay tactics and went to the courts. This is a bit of tit for tat on Apple's part.

    • by neoform (551705)
      Hahahahahahahah.. wait, you think the lawyers are going to seek what's best for their clients instead of what good for them? As a lawyer, you want your clients to charge into battle and sue as much as possible.. that way the lawyers get paid a lot more. If they settle quickly and avoid litigiousness... the lawyers get paid way less, so instead they promise victory and glory.. at $5000/hr.
    • Lawyers want to make money, not save money...
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by fractoid (1076465)

      Is it really cheaper to sue for peace? I mean, can't the legal teams for both companies see this down the road and come to some sort of mutual agreement in advance? It'd sure save a lot of time and money, not to mentioning freeing the courts a bit. Why is it acceptable policy to sue instead of discussing?

      Yeah, you know what this is REALLY about? The fact that Nokia has just released a few iPhone-class devices that dramatically undercut the inflated prices Apple is asking while providing 99% of the value. Take the 5800 XM for instance, I recently got one and it does about 80% of things just as well as an iphone and the rest it does better. And it's $29/mo where I live compared to $89/mo for an iphone. They're trying to scare competitors out of their marketplace, nothing more nothing less.

      • by Fackamato (913248) on Sunday January 17, 2010 @05:23PM (#30801326)

        FWIW, I've an 5800 XM too. It sucks balls. It's so slow, that just flipping the mobile over to rotate the screen takes seconds in some cases. Nothing is instant on this phone, you have to wait for everything. If this is even remotely comparable to the iPhone...

        Seriously, not a joke: Flip the phone on its side, open the applications folder. Wait 7 seconds, and they show up. At least on my 5800. Did I mention that it hangs, occasionally?

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by mdwh2 (535323)

          I love my 5800. Sure, there may be some things that the Iphone does better, but then there are things the Iphone does worse. Hell, even my 5 year old cheapo Motorola V980 had things that the Iphone models couldn't do, and in some cases still can't do.

          And anyhow - the 5800 is a fraction of the price of the Apple phones (about half price on UK PAYG prices), so what do you expect? It's not going to have as fast a processor at that price. There are higher end Nokia models - and they've been making "iPhone-class

  • by Hungus (585181) on Sunday January 17, 2010 @02:18AM (#30796356) Journal

    In all fairness, this is a response to Nokia's filing last month to ban Apple imports. So so far it has been:

    Nokia sues Apple
    Apple counter sues Nokia

    Nokia seeks to ban Apple Imports via ITC
    Apple responds by seeking to ban Nokia imports via the ITC

    info from Bloomberg: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=ao_5HVbD_IRM [bloomberg.com]

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by sopssa (1498795) *

      Yeah, just like the summary says on the second line...

      The thing is, Nokia has all the rights to do that since Apple keeps infringing their patents and doesn't even agree to cross license patents like every phone manufacturer does. This is just Apple being childish and trying to kick back in tears.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Uberbah (647458)

        Other than the part where Nokia wanted more money and more patents from Apple than from other manufacturers, of course. Somebody might be acting childish, but it sure isn't Apple.

        • Every single pro or anti post needs a declration stating if they own either apple or nokia shares.

          Otherwise youre statements of "Apple is god, they are inocent" are defensive and self interest based.

          I own neither.

        • by IamTheRealMike (537420) <mike@plan99.net> on Sunday January 17, 2010 @07:28AM (#30797352) Homepage

          Well, that's what Apple claim. There are two problems with this.

          The first one is, how does Apple know what other companies are required to pay? This article [eweek.com] claims the agreements are secret and I see no reason to disbelieve that, it'd be standard for this sort of thing.

          The second problem is that Apple have sadly established a track record in the last few years of being flexible with the truth, whereas Nokia have not. For example, covering up issues with Jobs' health and playing cute with the FCC over Google iPhone apps. In constrast the only time I read about Nokia in the news is when they've done something cool, like launching a new product.

          Simply put, some companies have more credibility than others, and Apple is on the losing side in this one.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Carewolf (581105)

            I am with Nokia on this issue, but don't make the mistake of thinking they are good guys. Nokia has traditionally been the Microsoft of the cell phone industry. Ignoring standards, making their own incompatible standards and even making phones with severe security issues. They had SMS viruses at one point! Also Nokia has been pushing for software patents in Europe, making them a sworn enemy of many geeks.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by MistrBlank (1183469)

          I'm also pretty sure that multitouch is not a technology that is necessary in the mobile phone market. I've seen plenty of new phones with keypads and no touch screens lately for a large market of users that don't need an all-in-one device. And as Apple has shown, multitouch devices are expansive beyond the cell phone/telephone marketplace.

          If Nokia is infringing, it is violation of Apple's patents, end of story.
          If Nokia is holding back Apple (and any other entry) due to tower communication technology lice

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Svartalf (2997)

            If Nokia is holding back Apple (and any other entry) due to tower communication technology licensing, that is a very monopolistic tactic, Nokia is not in their right, end of story.

            You obviously don't understand how Patents work in the first place.

            If I hold a patent I can bar damned near ANYONE from implementing it as a manufacturing endeavor- even with people not doing it for profits. Now, in the act of doing so, I might run afoul of certain anti-trust laws in some countries- but in most cases, I will not.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Savage-Rabbit (308260)

        The thing is, Nokia has all the rights to do that since Apple keeps infringing their patents and doesn't even agree to cross license patents like every phone manufacturer does. This is just Apple being childish and trying to kick back in tears.

        You could also point out that Nokia has been a major player on the mobile phone market for a long time. According to wikipedia their share of the device market was 38% in Q3 2009. Alluvasudden some upstart invades *their* mobile phone market, steals a big chunk of *their* share of the smartphone market, with an innovative new media-player/smart-phone this competitor succeeds in selling apps and music hand over fist where Nokia has had only mediocre success and to make matters worse no matter what they do No

        • by sopssa (1498795) * <sopssa@email.com> on Sunday January 17, 2010 @07:29AM (#30797354) Journal

          While I also think Nokia's phones haven't been up to quality in recent years (I switched to HTC and love it), they have a long history in developing phones and the technology behind it. They have spend millions on R&D. They fairly cross license patents with other manufacturers, like every one else does (theres not so many manufacturers anyways), but Apple refuses to do this.

          Even if their phones aren't as good as some competitors currently, Nokia is one of the companies that actually deserve to be paid their patent royalties.

          While patent laws are on Nokia's side too, they aren't even lowering to patent trolling - they're just asking Apple to behave good and like everyone else on the small industry and cross license their patents and pay the small share like everyone else does (3-4% per phone sale if I remember correctly, and Apple gets the same back if Nokia uses their patents). Is this too much to ask?

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by mdwh2 (535323)

          According to wikipedia their share of the device market was 38% in Q3 2009. Alluvasudden some upstart invades *their* mobile phone market, steals a big chunk of *their* share of the smartphone market

          A few percent is big? Well, I suppose it is a loss to Nokia, even if it's only a few per cent - but why aren't they going after RIM, as they're a company gaining even higher share than Apple?

          and to make matters worse no matter what they do Nokia can't seem to beat the Apple iPhone even when they practically copy

    • For copying it's legal moves.

  • by melikamp (631205) on Sunday January 17, 2010 @03:05AM (#30796510) Homepage Journal

    The summary is a good example of a situation when patents really shine at what they are: a handbrake on innovation. Consumer has nothing to gain if a capable competitor is excluded from the marketplace like that. Leading companies will invest in RnD, patents or not, mostly just to keep up with the state of the art, but also because when (by chance), their engineers invent something truly novel and useful, they will have weeks, months, or may be even years before competitors reverse-engineer their product and learn how to build it cheaper. It is clearly not worth for the public to pay the patent enforcement and monopoly taxes unless the patent law strongly boosts the rate of innovation (and even then, is there really a point?).

    And we have no evidence whatsoever that the patent system of any kind increases the rate of innovation (the technological leap of the last 400 years is probably mostly due to the fossil fuels, and we are in for another boost, due to the Internet, the holy Grail of communication). We but we have clear examples of monopolistic behaviors, where the cost to consumer can be directly calculated, like in every case when a cheaper competing product is barred from the market.

    The reasonable thing to do would be to start decreasing the patent term, while measuring how it affects the rate of innovation. I would not be surprised to see that it doesn't.

    • by WCguru42 (1268530)

      You must not understand where all the radios in your cell phones were designed. The fact that most companies don't have to think about designing their own radios frees them up to do other things (a la the iPhone).

    • by AHuxley (892839)
      The .coms wanted decades of revenue streams from what was to be short term protection.
      They bribed, bought, stole and rigged elections in the US until they got the laws passed and got biology/pharma added too.
      The little creative person is shut out. Multinationals seal up an area for their tech for many decades. They then swap amongst their peers and supply fabs.
  • by NimbleSquirrel (587564) on Sunday January 17, 2010 @03:11AM (#30796528)
    The reality is that, globally, Nokia is the larger company with a larger patent portfolio and has been in business far longer than Apple. Apple may have some key patents, but Nokia certainly have more in relation to mobile phone technology. The first patents at issue were ones necessary for GSM operation: without them, no GSM phone. It seems Apple, for whatever reason (possibly to maintain the secrecy of the iPhone development), decided not to sort out licensing before releasing the iPhone. This could be bad for Apple, if Nokia can prove in court that Apple deliberatly infringed on the patents to get the iPhone to market. Sure, Apple is arguing that license terms were not FRAND (as required by the GSM Association), but disagreement with licensing terms is not an exemption to put a product on the market.

    Going to the USITC is simply the next step in this legal tit-for-tat. The seven patents at issue in Nokia's filing to the USITC (involving camera, antenna and power management technology) were different to the original ten patents it sued for in October (involving GSM and wireless technology). Apple countersued in December for thirteen patents. I have yet to see if Apple's USITC filing involes the same thirteen patents. If it does, Apple's USITC filing could be thrown out to avoid a situation of double jeopardy. If it doesn't it would be interesting to see what patents are in Apple's USITC filing.

    It seems that Apple is trying to force a settlement out of Nokia, but Apple have for more to lose in this situation. Sure, there is a possibility of a ban on Nokia phones in the US, but most of Nokia's market lies outside the US. It is hard to tell what will happen next, but if a settlement is going to happen it won't be soon. I wouldn't be surprised if Nokia's next step is to take the fight international, with a filing in the EU. I can't help feeling that Apple may come out of this battle worse off.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by mab (17941)

      Shouldn't the company that produces the GSM chip sets be paying?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Kumiorava (95318)

        Only if they are contractually obligated to pay for GSM licensing fees. Most likely not, they let the customers to take care of these issues. In any case that debacle would be between Apple and GSM chipset manufacturer, Nokia isn't concerned about how Apple phone is made.

    • Nokia might have more employees and sell more phones, but Apple makes more money - in fact they could buy a controlling interest in Nokia with their cash-on-hand and fire Durrant's ass on the spot.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by rve (4436)

      You forget that Apple has fanboys, and Nokia does not. Nokia might as well settle now, apologise, pay an undisclosed sum and retreat from the American market again.

  • Haha. (Score:3, Funny)

    by RightSaidFred99 (874576) on Sunday January 17, 2010 @03:33AM (#30796602)
    Apple is posturing. Trying to take Nokia on in the mobile phone arena patent domain is like Bill Gates trying to fight Klitschko in a heavyweight boxing title. Apple will get destroyed. They really should just rush to settle.
  • Standing ground (Score:2, Insightful)

    by icsx (1107185)
    Does Apple really think they can do a mobile phone to the market in few years without violating any of Nokia's iventions done in the past 20 years that are patented? They think they do but reality is different. This is just Apple's response to get better negotiation grounds and with luck, they get a Judge who has Apple laptop to the case. Only then Apple has chances to win 1 round but only lose at the end at the higher court level.
  • Oh, please. This is standard procedure in a lawsuit. Since the judges almost always try to get the parties to settle, you don't start with a reasonable demand, you start with the maximum the law allows for, because the other party does the same. Then you meet in the middle.

    IANAL but I've done a number of corporate lawsuits, on both sides (suing and being sued). This is just how it works. If you actually get your initial demand, you'd be as surprised as everyone else.

  • by Exception Duck (1524809) on Sunday January 17, 2010 @06:56AM (#30797222) Homepage Journal

    This is just a feeling I have, but somehow the evil American corporation is more likely then the evil Finnish corporation.

  • <Nokia> HEY APPLE
    <Nokia> INSULT
    <Apple> LAWSUIT
    <Nokia> COUNTER-LAWSUIT
    <Apple> QUESTIONING OF SEXUAL PREFERENCE
    <Nokia> SUGGESTION TO SHUT THE FUCK UP
    <Apple> NOTATION THAT YOU CREATE A VACUUM
    <Nokia> LAWSUIT
    <Nokia> ADDON LAWSUIT
    <Apple> COUNTER-LAWSUIT
    <Nokia> COUNTER-COUNTER LAWSUIT
    <Apple> NONSENSICAL STATEMENT INVOLVING PLANKTON
    <FTC> RESPONSE TO RANDOM STATEMENT AND THREAT TO BAN OPPOSING SIDES
    <Apple> WORDS OF PRAISE FOR BRIBERY
    <FTC> ACKNOWLEDGEMENT AND ACCEPTENCE OF TERMS

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