Nokia is taking its patent battle against Apple to Europe. The Finland-based handset maker has filed claims in the U.K. High Court, Düsseldorf and Mannheim District Courts in Germany, and the District Court of The Hague, Netherlands.
The suits allege that Apple infringes Nokia patents in many of its products, including the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, sold in those countries. The actions add 13 further Nokia patents to the 24 already asserted against Apple before the U.S. International Trade Commission and the Delaware and Wisconsin federal courts.
"The Nokia inventions protected by these patents include several which enable compelling user experiences," said Paul Melin, vice president of intellectual property at Nokia. "For example, using a wiping gesture on a touchscreen to navigate content, or enabling access to constantly changing services with an on-device app store, both filed more than 10 years before the launch of the iPhone."
During the last two decades, Nokia has invested approximately 40 billion euros (US$52.8 billion) in research and development and built an IP portfolio with about 11,000 patent families. None of the asserted patents in the legal filings have been declared essential to any wireless communication standard.
Nokia's filing in the U.K. covers four Nokia patents related to touch user interface, on-device app stores, signal noise suppression, and modulator structures. Nokia's filing in Düsseldorf covers seven Nokia patents related to touch user interface, antenna structures, messaging functionality, and chipsets.
Nokia's filing in Mannheim covers five Nokia patents related to on-device app stores, caller ID, display illumination, and the integration of multiple radios.
Nokia's filing in The Hague covers two Nokia patents related to signal noise suppression and data-card functionality.
Apple Doesn't Have To Play Nice
"It's patent wars. It's not like Nokia has a lot of choices here, but there are some real risks this time," said Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group. "Typically the market goes through a cycle where everybody and their brother sues each other, and then they do cross licenses and everyone plays nice. The issue here is when you are dealing with crazy rich guys -- and Steve Jobs is one of those crazy rich guys -- because nothing says that they have to be reasonable."
As Enderle sees it, Nokia isn't in great financial shape to fight long, multi-faceted, multi-country legal battles. From a financial perspective, Apple could do this all day long and probably not even breathe hard, he said, so Apple doesn't have to play nice.
"Steve Jobs is pretty secure in his position, so he doesn't have to worry about whether it's reasonable or not, and increasingly he's not being all that reasonable," Enderle said. "Right now there are two companies you really don't want to go to court against because they are headed by crazy rich guys. One is Oracle and the other is Apple. It would be interesting if they sued each other; then we'd be in for a fight. But Larry [Ellison] and Steve are friends, so I don't think we'll see that happening."