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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 Bullfish (858648) on Monday March 15, 2010 @03:00PM (#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
  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn AT gmail DOT com> on Monday March 15, 2010 @03:02PM (#31486770) Journal

    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.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 15, 2010 @03:07PM (#31486860)
    Oh.. so, Nokia patents are, well, not really required. Apple patents, er, you are not really sure? Then WTF are you saying? Looks like just another fucking apple fanboi to me.
  • by ircmaxell (1117387) on Monday March 15, 2010 @03:16PM (#31487004) Homepage

    Nokia has already paid off its research costs many times over from the sale of cellphones

    Sure, for those specific innovations. But R&D is an expensive, time consuming process that leads to many dead ends and few profitable results (if done in the Bell Atlantic method). So they do need to capitalize on the relatively few innovations that are profitable to pave the way for the vast number that are directly profitable (Consider that Bell invented basically DLP way back in the 1970's. Sure, it's a good innovation, but it never paid them profits, because it didn't become economically feasible for decades later).

    I think personally software patents are stupid, because the barrier to entry into such a field are so small that it's very hard to realistically say "I'm the first one to ever come up with this idea" and prove it (After all, it could have been part of some student's senior research project in the 70's, but was never "published")... With technologies with a large barrier to entry (especially large barriers to research), patents offer some protection to companies that they can recoup their research costs. Consider the example of someone building computer algorithms for file system interaction. How many man-hours does it take to do that? Sure, there could be a fair number, but probably not man-decades... How many non-human resources are involved? Sure, you do have a few computers/servers/etc, but my guess is MAYBE $10k... Now, consider research into radio protocols for cellphone data. How many man-hours are involved there? Potentially many decades (if you have more 2 or 3 working for any significant amount of time). How many non-human resources? LOTS. FCC licenses, transmitting equipment, diagnostic equipment, potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars (if not millions of dollars). All dedicated (for that particular time at least) to the research. That's why patents exist... To give companies an incentive to do non-trivial innovation... The fact of the mater is (IMHO) for a large number of the software patents that I've seen, the innovation is trivial at best (If not already common knowledge)...

    Just my $0.02...

  • by jim_v2000 (818799) on Monday March 15, 2010 @03:22PM (#31487092)
    "Nokia has already paid off its research costs many times over from the sale of cellphones, so it doesn't make sense to pay anything to Nokia."

    Except that whether or not they've made their money back is entirely irrelevant to anything. It's Nokia's patented technology, and if someone wants to use it, they have to pay up.
  • by Kitkoan (1719118) on Monday March 15, 2010 @03:26PM (#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 rolfwind (528248) on Monday March 15, 2010 @03:33PM (#31487240)

    Apple hasn't and can't patent an idea, which multitouch is. They have a specific implementation implemented, via buying up Fingerworks years ago which was started by two University of Delaware professors.

    I have no clue if the implementation touches on prior art, but it's like saying engines have been designed many times before, hence an engine can't be patented. The idea of an engine can't be, but it could be a fundamentally new design that executes things different and perhaps better.

  • by unity100 (970058) on Monday March 15, 2010 @04:00PM (#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.

  • by jo_ham (604554) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .999mahoj.> on Monday March 15, 2010 @04:23PM (#31488018)

    If Apple wants to use GSM hardware, Nokia is obliged to licence it to them under RAND terms. RAND is not an organisation (in this sense, although there is a non-profit called "the RAND corporation", but it has nothing whatsoever to do with this) it means Reasonable And Non-Discriminatory licensing; which applies to the GSM patents Nokia holds. They are required to licence them fairly and equally to anyone who wants to use them, in exchange for the patents being part of the standard for cellular communication.

    Apple doesn't need to be part of anything to be able to licence the patents. You could set up your own mobile phone company in your basement and Nokia would be obliged to licence the patents to you too - at the same rate that everyone pays to use them.

  • Re:RAND (Score:5, Insightful)

    by X.25 (255792) on Monday March 15, 2010 @04:31PM (#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...

  • RDF patents (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Chas (5144) on Monday March 15, 2010 @05:16PM (#31488720) Homepage Journal

    Nope.
    Chuck Manson got to it first.
    Though some ancillary patents are held by the estate of Jim Jones.
    There were even a couple filed afterwards by some guy named Khoresh in Waco Texas.

  • by bzipitidoo (647217) <bzipitidoo@yahoo.com> on Monday March 15, 2010 @05:28PM (#31488862) Journal

    R&D is an expensive, time consuming process that leads to many dead ends

    Corporations seek to avoid expense. They don't engage in research if there is any other choice. They leach. Universities and government labs are the main hosts, and that's ok, that's one of the purposes of those organizations. But the leeches shouldn't be given exclusive rights to the work of others.

    That's why patents exist... To give companies an incentive to do non-trivial innovation...

    Yes, in an ideal world. In reality, the system works poorly, and even against the goal. Instead of more innovation, we get less competition, less diversity, and less innovation as companies use the system to hurt and eliminate one another, and reduce consumers' choices. Then there's patent trolls and the likes of SCO, the suicide bombers of the War on Innovation. One possible outcome of this fight is that Apple and Nokia both lose, and only the trial lawyers win. We need disarmament to stop this sort of destructive competition. Get rid of the patents. It's like trying to win a sports contest by assassinating the competition before the contest, and winning by forfeit when the competition doesn't show up. Turn this war back into a sport.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 15, 2010 @06:00PM (#31489178)

    No. The purpose of patent law is to help with R&D ONLY.

    And you have statutory and case law to back this up, right?

  • by hclewk (1248568) on Monday March 15, 2010 @07:06PM (#31489854)

    Universities and government labs are the main hosts, and that's ok

    Bull. Sure those institution work great for general scientific research, but when it comes to applying the science, private companies that profit from the result are the way to go.

    Now, what happens when I spend 10 years and thousands of dollars tinkering in my basement to build a next-gen Thingy, and then, since patents don't exist, two weeks after I release my product to the market, company X with billions of dollars at it's disposal come out with an identical copy and a far superior marketing strategy? Well, I don't recoup my costs (not even close) and company X makes all the money. Would company X have developed this technology? No. Will I ever do it again? No. Will a university develop this? No, they have no interest.

    Yes, the patent system is broken. Is the solution to completely abolish it? Hell no.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 15, 2010 @07:28PM (#31490100)

    The whole point of the RAND terms are to ensure that everyone is paying equally - Nokia can't charge Apple more just because it wants to.

    No they're not, and yes they can.

    There is nothing in RAND terms that specifies what Nokia can or can't do. GSM has been entangled in this mess since the beginning. The only point of RAND is to ensure the patent holders don't wield so much control as to pose a barrier to entry.

    This is generally why companies cross-license their patents as part of the negotiation.

    Apple has basically admitted to willful infringement, so they're already starting the case from a weakened position.

  • by mjwx (966435) on Monday March 15, 2010 @07:38PM (#31490200)

    And Apple want to pay up - they just don;t want to pay more than other cellphone companies to use the GSM patents.

    This is a myth.

    Nokia is obliged (not by Apple) to licence those patents equally to anyone who wants them,

    Only specific patents. Those patents were offered at the same cost as everyone else. However Apple feels entitled to Nokia's entire patent catalouge which is not covered by agreements like RAND and have openly admitted to using these patents without paying fees.

    Other manufacturers pay less because they have their own patent portfolio's which are of equal value, these are traded to Nokia for use of their patent portfolio in lieu of cash, Apple has no such patent portfolio so they have to pay cash like manufacturers that do not maintain heavy patent portfolio's like HTC.

    Whoops, I said HTC. Apple is now using it's dubious software patents to sue HTC. This is being done entirely as a response to Nokia suing Apple over patents not covered by RAND in an attempt to artificially increase the value of it's own patent portfolio, which is far weaker then Nokia's.

    Apple isn't trying to *not* pay - it just wants to pay what other cellphone makers pay.

    And that is exactly what Nokia is suing for. Nokia spend years and millions developing this technology, Apple has no technology of equal value so why should Apple get a free ride.

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

    by whisper_jeff (680366) on Monday March 15, 2010 @07:40PM (#31490218)

    ...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.

  • Question A: Where is it required that Nokia allow Apple (who provided no help toward developing 3G, unlike other phone manufacturers) to license the relevant patents at the same price as another company that directly helped develop the technology? Citation needed.

    Question B: Hypothetically, suppose you're right and Nokia was obligated to offer Apple the same pricing. In that case, which of the following options is legal for Apple to take:
    (A) File a lawsuit against Nokia
    (B) Sell their product using unlicensed technology anyhow?

  • by Splab (574204) on Tuesday March 16, 2010 @01:05AM (#31492332)

    Why?

    Apple has brought nothing to the table, Nokia is only required to license out its patents, by no means are they required to let Apple eat mostly for free - I've seen a lot of people pointing to RAND without any of them actually bothering to read up on it, RAND just requires the licensing out to others at a reasonable price, RAND does not specify that everyone should get same discounts.

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

    by kevinbr (689680) on Tuesday March 16, 2010 @05:20AM (#31493230)

    What company releases a product and then quits? Releasing new products does not automatically define that they are engineering obsolescence. My original 5 gig ipod still works. My original iMac ( 1998) still works. I have a 520c Portable that still worked the day I threw it out ( 1995?) last month.

    I never sell any apple product they all continue to work .

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