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Iphone Cellphones Patents The Courts Apple

Nokia Claims Apple Does "Legal Alchemy" To Mask IP Theft 294

Posted by Soulskill
from the better-than-illegal-alchemy dept.
CWmike writes "Nokia asked a federal judge last week to toss out Apple's antitrust claims, saying the iPhone maker indulged in 'legal alchemy' when it tried to divert attention from its infringement of Nokia's intellectual property. The filing was the latest salvo in a battle that began in October 2009 when handset maker Nokia sued Apple, saying the iPhone infringed on 10 of its patents, and that Apple was trying 'to get a free ride on the back of Nokia's innovation.' Apple countered in December with a lawsuit of its own that not only claimed Nokia infringed 13 of its patents, but that Nokia also violated antitrust law by legally attacking Apple after it declined to pay what it called 'exorbitant royalties' and refused to give Nokia access to iPhone patents. 'These non-patent counterclaims are designed to divert attention away from free-riding off of Nokia's intellectual property, a practice Apple evidently believes should only be of paramount concern when it is the alleged victim,' Nokia charged in the motion. Apple is on a legal roll, having also recently sued the maker of Google's Nexus One, HTC, for patent infringement."
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Nokia Claims Apple Does "Legal Alchemy" To Mask IP Theft

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  • by linuxrocks123 (905424) on Monday March 15, 2010 @03:49PM (#31486522) Homepage Journal

    Hopefully the Bilski decision will come out and invalidate software patents. Then these companies can get back to competing on innovation.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 15, 2010 @03:53PM (#31486610)

      Hopefully the Bilski decision will come out and invalidate software patents. Then these companies can get back to competing on innovation.

      Note that the patents Nokia are using against Apple are not Software patents, but real technology patents. The fact that Apple has nothing but software patents to respond with is a signal about how fragile Apple in fact is, with no real "valuable" intellectual property.

      • by Locke2005 (849178) on Monday March 15, 2010 @03:55PM (#31486666)
        Wait a minute... they do have a patent on the "Steve Jobs reality distortion field", don't they?
      • The fact that Apple has nothing but software patents to respond with is a signal about how fragile Apple in fact is, with no real "valuable" intellectual property.

        Apple holds plenty of hardware patents, like the multi-touch feature of the iPhone.

      • by Kitkoan (1719118) on Monday March 15, 2010 @04:26PM (#31487152)

        Hopefully the Bilski decision will come out and invalidate software patents. Then these companies can get back to competing on innovation.

        Note that the patents Nokia are using against Apple are not Software patents, but real technology patents. The fact that Apple has nothing but software patents to respond with is a signal about how fragile Apple in fact is, with no real "valuable" intellectual property.

        Another problem here is it says that when Apple counter sued for the 13 patents, they also admitted they are violating Nokia's patents because they didn't want to pay the royalty rates and cross-patent usage. Just because Apple didn't want to pay the rates and patent usages doesn't give them the legal right to use and profit from Nokia's work for free.

        • by jo_ham (604554) <joham999 AT gmail DOT com> on Monday March 15, 2010 @04:42PM (#31487408)

          They want to pay the *fair* rate - which Nokia is obliged to give them. They are claiming that Nokia is attempting to charge them more (in terms of cash and cross licenced patents) than they are allowed to charge.

          They want to pay what other people pay. Nokia is not allowed to charge more to whoever it chooses.

          • by Kitkoan (1719118)

            They want to pay the *fair* rate - which Nokia is obliged to give them. They are claiming that Nokia is attempting to charge them more (in terms of cash and cross licenced patents) than they are allowed to charge.

            They want to pay what other people pay. Nokia is not allowed to charge more to whoever it chooses.

            What about the cross-patents they are licensing with other company's? The royal rates may work on a more sliding scale based on the usability of the patents included in the trade and since the iPhone is only 3 years old, its possible the patents they had to offer didn't add up financial as the could have meriting (in Nokia's eye) to a high royalty rate.

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by jo_ham (604554)

              This is what I suspect it is about. Nokia wants particular patents, and is claiming that they are worth the price of the GSM patents, Apple presumably is disagreeing and claiming they are worth more.

              I'm just guessing, but it's going to be something like this.

              I doubt that most of the deals to use the GSM patents from other phone manufacturers are pure cash payments to Nokia - it's always going to be about trading patents.

          • by Lehk228 (705449)
            the complicating factor is that nokia has patents on GSM and 3G, are the "higher rates" the combination of both?

            considering recent history with the two companies, i would default to trusting nokia unless they were shown to be dishonest.
            • by jo_ham (604554)

              I don't know who to trust here. Apple may be litigious, but it's not stupid - if it was a simple case, they would have settled it by now. Their GSM hardware isn't even unique - they use off the shelf chips, which other phone makers have been using for a long time with no issues (unless they paid up over the odds under the threat of Nokia's legal stick and didn't tell anyone).

              It shouldn't be this hard to pay up for the use of GSM and other wireless patents that are covered by RAND, and it's unlikely to be so

              • Apple may be litigious, but it's not stupid - if it was a simple case, they would have settled it by now.

                I'm not convinced that's true -- sometimes the smart move is to play for time even though you'll ultimately lose.

                In other words (assuming for the moment that Apple is in the wrong and knows they will lose, which isn't necessarily true, but for the sake of discussion I'll pretend it is), Apple might think they can make more money by growing their marketshare by infringing on Nokia's patents now, than they

          • by aztektum (170569)

            Why not?

          • Else Apple HAS to sell me in Holland music for 1 dollar and NOT 1 euro. Or are there different rules for companies then for consumers?

            And Nokia doesn't sell the licenses, it uses cross-licensing which every other player in the industry does all well to ensure against patent cases like this. But Apple has no patents. So, Apple is not asking to pay what everyone else pays because nobody else pays with just cash.

            Jobs reality distortion field seems to be fully in effect on you.

          • by Ironhandx (1762146) on Monday March 15, 2010 @05:42PM (#31488304)

            Incorrect. Apple CLAIMS that Nokia has demanded unfair rates.

            Since the only thing I've seen amounts to 1-2% royalties(and thats from the apple camp) and Nokias patents covers the vast majority of the tech thats actually used to make the the iPhone a, you know, phone, I don't think its too outrageous, do you?

            From what I can gather the truth to the story is that Nokia, going about business as usual, decided to up their royalty rates by .5%(approximately). Certainly this decision could have been hurried because Apple was about to enter negotiations, but thats also business as usual for any company. Once it was in place with Apple they likely were going to institute it in their other agreements elsewhere once those agreements expired. Where the big problem seems to come in is the actual dollar figure of $6-$12 per every iPhone.

            To make a long story short, for the most part, it seems to me that Apple is getting nailed by their own Apple tax and they're not fans of the feeling.

          • by greenbird (859670)

            They want to pay the *fair* rate - which Nokia is obliged to give them.

            Huh, this is an aspect of patent law I've never heard of. I was under the impression that the owner of the patent could simple tell everyone to fark off and not license it to anyone. Can you show me this "fair rate" clause? Who gets to determine what a "fair rate" is? In other words, I call BS.

        • by linhares (1241614)
          I hope Bilsky will not invalidate this beautiful Patent Troll Patent [ow.ly]; so these Patent Trolls will have to pay up to a Patent Troll for their Patent Trolling. Imagine this, a monopoly of Patent Trolling!
        • by diamondsw (685967)

          Actually, it does. As part of a standard, Nokia is bound to license these patents on fair and non-discriminatory terms. If it turns out they were charging exorbitant fees to Apple as opposed to other manufacturers, it would be illegal and they would face sanctions (from who and in what form, I'm unsure).

      • by zappepcs (820751)

        And we can expect to see iPhone work-alikes in 3.. 2.. 1..

        Seriously, I find this rather funny. We might soon be able to call it the tarnished halo effect?

    • Nokia has a huge R&D organisation. Everything from software down to silicon.
       

    • Hopefully the Bilski decision will come out and invalidate software patents. Then these companies can get back to competing on innovation.

      Um, from what I've read of the patents, Nokia's patents seem to be (at least partially) for hardware while Apple's patents (in both suits) are about the software (frameworks and the like) on the phones. Nokia's patents seem to focus on the devices that implement standards. While it will reduce the number of patents covered for royalties, I don't think a negative Bilski decision will immediately cause all charges to be dropped ... rather they would just figure out a different angle of attack.

      Personally, I think software patents are complete and utter bullshit but you have to respect the hardware patents ... that's heavy R&D to get the hardware on phones where it is today. You should get your reward for figuring that crap out. I think it's too long of a patent term but you gotta start somewhere.

      This whole patent portfolio charade reeks of a prison scene where when you enter a market you either make someone your bitch or become somebody's bitch. You're telling me that these two companies couldn't have respected each other enough to have worked this crap out before they turned it into a public mud slinging spectacle? Grow up.

    • that would apply ONLY to apple, not nokia who holds real patents and deservedly asking apple to pay up.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by jo_ham (604554)

        No, they are asking (according to Apple) more than they are allowed to - Apple wants to pay what everyone else pays for the GSM patents. Nokia is obliged to charge them that rate. Apple claims Nokia is strongarming them unfairly to get access to other patents that Apple holds.

  • It's a bunch of phones.
    You press buttons, make calls with them to other people. Thank goodness that's not a patentable idea or we'd all be shafted.

    The tweaks on how to make these calls really seem.... unimportant apart to the lawyers.

    • by creimer (824291)
      You mean phones still make phone calls? OMG! I thought that feature was dropped years ago in the era of pictures, videos and text messages.
      • by Pojut (1027544)

        I wouldn't have noticed much...I think the most minutes I've used up in a billing cycle in the last two years was 35 :/

    • by postbigbang (761081) on Monday March 15, 2010 @04:22PM (#31487090)

      The patents for tip-and-ring landlines expired long ago. There was a fight, even then.

      According TFA, this also about GSM, UTMS, and WiFI-- and Nokia has intellectual property claims in all three; and those are what the litigation against Apple is all about.

      Let's see: cells and wireless. No, not about phones. Bridging GSM lines for data... no, not about phones. WiFi switch-off.... no, not about phones again.

      Not about software either. Hmmmm.

      This doesn't speak to Bilski, this doesn't have anything to do with that. This, notwithstanding to the madness of patents in general.

    • Its hilarious because you know - making phone calls was patented - look up 174465. Sure its old, but there you go.

      On cell phones I'm sure Motorola patented the hell out of the original Dynatac as well.

    • The early phone industry faced very long and complex wars over patent thickets for quite some time. Who had the patent on what parts of the Telephone? Who had patents on various bits of electromechanical switch technology? Cell phones too are very, very patent-laden.

  • I'm with Nokia (Score:3, Interesting)

    by improfane (855034) on Monday March 15, 2010 @03:57PM (#31486690) Journal

    After being screwed by Microsoft in the past, it's pretty obvious why Apple is so aggressive nowadays. It's taking taking some pages from Microsoft.

    I am with Nokia because they're quite nice with Qt and they are definitely rightly responsible for a lot of technology that no doubt Apple just implemented without permission. I think the fact that about 40 firms* paying royalties is evidence enough.

    I will not buy an iPhone and never will be part of that monopoly. iPods, iPhones are engineered to fail and you paying ~£30 for the privilege to do very little.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/8321058.stm [bbc.co.uk]

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by whisper_jeff (680366)

      ...iPods, iPhones are engineered to fail...

      News to me. I own an old 406 gig iPod which is about eight years old and still works like a dream. I own an first gen iPod Touch which works perfectly. And I own an iPhone 3GS which works flawlessly. Now, I know that's anecdotal evidence but I think the millions and millions and millions and millions of people who own iPods (and often multiple iPods) would disagree with your claim that they are engineered to fail.

      Feel free to prove me wrong but I doubt you'll succeed.

  • by Bullfish (858648) on Monday March 15, 2010 @04:00PM (#31486744)
    As long as there is profit in suing for such things, a lot of companies will keep doing it. After a few decades of stealing from each other, software and hardware companies are waking up, looking around and realizing there is money to be made from suing each other for practices they have all engaged in... damn near all the patent infringement lawsuits I have read about seem on the surface, to be frivolous... it really is time for patent reform
  • They are much less exciting than REAL wars. When will Apple and Nokia build up militias and shoot each other to death while I watch it on my major news source in night vision?

    • They are much less exciting than REAL wars. When will Apple and Nokia build up militias and shoot each other to death while I watch it on my major news source in night vision?

      They just need a few more politicians. Patience, chummer.

  • RAND (Score:2, Interesting)

    by danaris (525051)

    Now, someone else may have more recent information that contradicts this, but...

    My understanding was that Apple tried to license these patents from Nokia. They are part of the GSM specification, which no GSM phone can function without. Because they are part of the standard, they must be licensed under Reasonable And Non-Discriminatory terms.

    But Nokia wanted more from Apple for these patents than they did from anyone else.

    What, exactly? I don't know. Either the articles I've read didn't say, or I've sinc

    • by Colin Smith (2679) on Monday March 15, 2010 @04:30PM (#31487202)

      But Nokia wanted more from Apple for these patents than they did from anyone else.

      Really? So, exactly how much did Nokia want from Apple?

      And exactly how much did the other licensees pay?

       

    • Re:RAND (Score:5, Interesting)

      by kylant (527449) on Monday March 15, 2010 @04:31PM (#31487208)
      Have you ever considered that both sides of the story might be true?

      Apple has a rather unusual model to sell its phone: From what we've heard Apple demands not only a one-time sales price from the operators (as most other mobile manufacturers do) but also a part of the monthly fee paid by iphone-customers. If Nokia licenses its patents for a percentage of the sales price (a common practice) they could also have asked for a percentage of the monthly fee (and justly so, if you ask me, as Apple just spreads out the sales price over a longer period of time). Apple on the other side might object to being the only GSM-manufacturer that has to pay a monthly fee.

      • Apple demands not only a one-time sales price from the operators (as most other mobile manufacturers do) but also a part of the monthly fee paid by iphone-customers.

        while no one out side of Apple and the carriers know for sure, it has been assumed based on information from the minimal disclosures that Apple has made that Apple had this model when they launched the first iPhone, but then changed to a standard subsidy model with the launch of the 3G iPhone.

        One point of confusion for analysts is that Apple uses subscription accounting for iPhone sales. So assuming they get about $360 for AT&T for each phone sold, they recognize that revenue over 24 months, or $15 a m

    • by GuyFawkes (729054) on Monday March 15, 2010 @04:44PM (#31487436) Homepage Journal

      RAND terms only applied IF you developed and contributed to the standard.

      RAND terms SPECIFICALLY EXCLUDED everyone who came along afterwards and wanted to use / licence GSM.

      Apple DID NOT help develop GSM.

      Apple REFUSED to accept non-RAND GSM licencing terms.

      These are the facts. These are ALL the facts.

      • That goes counter to how I've always understood the whole point if RAND to be. If you're correct, then no company that ever wanted to use a GSM chip, but was unable to have participated in the creation of the standard due to, oh, I don't know, not having existed at the time or some other equally lame reason would be effectively excluded from being able to make use of this standard in any practical way.

        I suspect you're thinking of more normal cross-licensing agreements. Because that's what you've describe
      • by diamondsw (685967) on Monday March 15, 2010 @05:14PM (#31487860)

        RAND terms only applied IF you developed and contributed to the standard.

        Um, wrong much?

        From everyone's favorite source [wikipedia.org]:
        "companies agree that if they receive any patents on technologies which become essential to the standard then they agree to allow other groups attempting to implement the standard to use those patents and they agree that the charges for those patents shall be reasonable"

        There is absolutely nothing involved in being part of the standards body to receive RAND terms. If you're part of the standards body you have to extend RAND terms.

        • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Monday March 15, 2010 @07:31PM (#31489480) Journal

          You linked to the general definition of RAND. There's nothing in the definition that precludes some form of "limited RAND", where the terms are only applied to a members of a specific group, and not outside of it.

          In any case, every time this Nokia vs Apple topic is raised on Slashdot, I see this very same exchange about RAND. However, neither the side that claims GSM is RAND-licensed to everyone, nor the side which claims some kind of "limited RAND", have offered any definite sources. I've tried to find it on GSM Association website on my own, but wasn't successful.

          Until then, both yours and GP's claims are just speculation, and the actual licensing terms for GSM specs, and how they apply to this situation, are unclear.

    • My understanding is that the cross-licensing agreements protects both companies from a patent war. In this case, however, Apple didn't have a lot of cellphone technology to cross-license. So Nokia wanted their non-cellphone tech. Apple said no. It would be interesting what Nokia charged some cellphone makers that don't bring a lot of innovation. For example some of the Asian manufacturers that don't really invent new technology but figure out ways to make it cheaper. What did Nokia charge them?
    • Re:RAND (Score:5, Insightful)

      by X.25 (255792) on Monday March 15, 2010 @05:31PM (#31488162)

      Now, someone else may have more recent information that contradicts this, but...

      My understanding was that Apple tried to license these patents from Nokia. They are part of the GSM specification, which no GSM phone can function without. Because they are part of the standard, they must be licensed under Reasonable And Non-Discriminatory terms.

      But Nokia wanted more from Apple for these patents than they did from anyone else.

      What, exactly? I don't know. Either the articles I've read didn't say, or I've since forgotten. I think it was cross-licensing with some of the specific patents on the iPhone, but as I say, I'm not sure.

      Either way, if Nokia isn't licensing the original patents under RAND terms to Apple, then they should be burned to hell and back for this. They knew the price when they put patents of theirs into the GSM spec, and now they have to live with it.

      So, let me see if I got this right:

      You don't know WHAT Nokia wanted from Apple, but you KNOW that Nokia didn't license the original patents under RAND terms?

      I am sorry - could you try to explain this to me again? You know that Nokia wouldn't give Apple the patents under RAND terms, but you don't know what Nokia was asking for?

      I am at the point where I am annoyed more by Apple appologists than by biggest Microsoft fans.

      And that is really really hard to achieve...

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by KnownIssues (1612961)

      Let's say all that is true (because I have no reason to believe you are wrong). If Nokia refused to make a reasonable deal with Apple – one that would violate anti-trust laws – shouldn't Apple have sued Nokia at that point, rather than build a device they knew required licensing to use that they didn't have? Is this "it's easier to ask forgiveness than it is to get permission"?

      If Apple had built something and just failed to identify patents because they didn't research some obscure patents, I co

  • by H4x0r Jim Duggan (757476) on Monday March 15, 2010 @04:10PM (#31486908) Homepage Journal

    Here's what I've gathered so far about these:

    swpat.org is a publicly editable wiki, help welcome.

  • 1984 ad (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Remember when Apple resembled the androgynous athlete more than the creepy old Big Brother dude on the TV? I do...

  • Alchemy? (Score:4, Funny)

    by RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) <taiki&cox,net> on Monday March 15, 2010 @04:34PM (#31487260)

    Legal Alchemy? iPad Magic?

    Is this Cupertino we're talking about or Hogwarts?

    • Maybe Nokia should get a three-headed dog to guard their patents...
    • Certainly not. This is Steve Jobs we're talking about. They meant to say "transubstantiation".
    • Legal Alchemy? iPad Magic?

      Is this Cupertino we're talking about or Hogwarts?

      Seriously. I think Apple's marketing team must all be out on vacation because the image on Apple's homepage [apple.com] had the worst tagline I've ever seen:

      "A magical and revolutionary product at an unbelievable price."

      That's unbelievably bad. I thought Apple was a lot classier than that garbage.

  • Magic. Cause Apple dose not employ alchemists. They have Wizards. [pcworld.com]
  • by unity100 (970058) on Monday March 15, 2010 @05:00PM (#31487670) Homepage Journal

    jefferson as in thomas jefferson

    It has been pretended by some that inventors have a natural and exclusive right to their inventions, and not merely for their own lives, but inheritable to their heirs. But while it is a moot question whether the origin of any kind of property is derived from nature at all, it would be singular to admit a natural and even an hereditary right to inventors. It is agreed by those who have seriously considered the subject, that no individual has, of natural right, a separate property in an acre of land, for instance. By an universal law, indeed, whatever, whether fixed or movable, belongs to all men equally and in common, is the property for the moment of him who occupies it, but when he relinquishes the occupation, the property goes with it. Stable ownership is the gift of social law, and is given late in the progress of society. It would be curious then, if an idea, the fugitive fermentation of an individual brain, could, of natural right, be claimed in exclusive and stable property. If nature has made any one thing less susceptible than all others of exclusive property, it is the action of the thinking power called an idea, which an individual may exclusively possess as long as he keeps it to himself; but the moment it is divulged, it forces itself into the possession of every one, and the receiver cannot dispossess himself of it. Its peculiar character, too, is that no one possesses the less, because every other possesses the whole of it. He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me. That ideas should freely spread from one to another over the globe, for the moral and mutual instruction of man, and improvement of his condition, seems to have been peculiarly and benevolently designed by nature, when she made them, like fire, expansible over all space, without lessening their density in any point, and like the air in which we breathe, move, and have our physical being, incapable of confinement or exclusive appropriation. Inventions then cannot, in nature, be a subject of property. Society may give an exclusive right to the profits arising from them, as an encouragement to men to pursue ideas which may produce utility, but this may or may not be done, according to the will and convenience of the society, without claim or complaint from anybody. Accordingly, it is a fact, as far as I am informed, that England was, until we copied her, the only country on earth which ever, by a general law, gave a legal right to the exclusive use of an idea. In some other countries it is sometimes done, in a great case, and by a special and personal act, but, generally speaking, other nations have thought that these monopolies produce more embarrassment than advantage to society; and it may be observed that the nations which refuse monopolies of invention, are as fruitful as England in new and useful devices.

    he basically says patents are bullshit.

  • The lawyers are happy, and everyone is paying lots of money. At this rate, at some future point it will hopefully become unaffordable to litigate over software patents, and all companies who do so will go the way of SCO.

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