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Nokia Files Second Complaint Against Apple in Patent Fight

Nokia Files Second Complaint Against Apple in Patent Fight
A Nokia Oyj sign is displayed outside the company's offices in Helsinki. Photographer: Henrik Kettunen/Bloomberg

Nokia Oyj filed a second complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission over claims that Apple Inc.’s iPhone and other products copied its technology, less than a week after Apple won a ruling in a similar case.

The new complaint involves seven patents that Nokia said Apple is using “to create key features in its products in the areas of multi-tasking operating systems, data synchronization, positioning, call quality and the use of Bluetooth accessories,” the Espoo, Finland-based handset maker said today.

The companies have been embroiled in litigation since October 2009, when Nokia filed a lawsuit accusing Apple of infringing 10 patents and demanding royalties on the millions of iPhones sold since the device’s introduction in 2007. Each company has since accused the other of infringing an increasing number of patents, covering key areas such as user interface, sound and camera technology.

“Our latest ITC filing means we now have 46 Nokia patents in suit against Apple, many filed more than 10 years before Apple made its first iPhone,” Paul Melin, vice president for intellectual property at Nokia, said in today’s statement.

Market Growth

The commission is an independent agency that has the power to block imports of products found to infringe U.S. patents. The Nokia complaint, filed yesterday in Washington, seeks to halt imports of Apple electronics including the iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad tablet computer and the MacBook computer. Kristin Huguet, a spokeswoman for Apple, said the company had no comment on the new complaint.

Cupertino, California-based Apple won a ruling from an ITC judge on March 25 that it wasn’t violating Nokia’s rights on five patents. The six-member commission will announce in two months whether it will review that decision. Apple’s claims against Nokia were split into two cases.

One of those cases was combined with patent allegations Apple filed against phonemaker HTC Corp. A hearing on that case is scheduled to begin April 18, with the judge expected to release his findings by Aug. 5. The judge in the case where Nokia is the only defendant is scheduled to release his findings on June 24, according to the ITC’s website.

At stake is the global market for portable devices, where Apple reaped more than $38 billion in sales for the iPhone, iPod and iPad during its financial year ended in September. That compares with about 28.8 billion euros ($40.5 billion) for Nokia’s devices and services businesses in the same period.

Market Growth

Shipments of pocket-sized smartphones capable of surfing the Internet and downloading music and movies may gain 49 percent this year to more than 450 million units globally, Framingham, Massachusetts-based researcher International Data Corp. said in a report today.

Six of the patents in the complaint are new to the ongoing dispute and one is also covered in a court case in Delaware, Mark Durrant, a Nokia spokesman, said in an e-mail. Companies run lawsuits in parallel with ITC complaints in order to seek cash compensation for past infringements, as the ITC can only order products excluded from the U.S. market. The civil suits are usually put on hold until the ITC completes its investigation.

Apple has claimed infringements on a total of 29 patents in its actions against Nokia, Durrant said.

The Apple products are assembled in China, according to Nokia’s ITC complaints.

Nokia fell 1.5 cents, or 0.2 percent, to close at 6.17 euros in Helsinki. Apple added 8 cents to $350.52 as of 12:23 p.m. in New York.

The new complaint is In the Matter of Electronic Devices, including Mobile Phones, Mobile Tablets, Portable Music Players and Computers, Complaint No. 2792, U.S. International Trade Commission (Washington). The civil suit is Nokia Corp. v. Apple Inc., 11cv259, U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware (Wilmington).

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