The United States International Trade Commission will reportedly investigate Nokia’s patent infringement complaints against Apple, Reuters said on Tuesday. This doesn’t mean Apple is infringing on anything, but it does mean that Nokia’s complaint has caught the attention of regulators. Until now, the complaint seemed like yet another lawsuit filed on behalf of a patent troll.
Nokia filed its complaint last month when it accused Apple’s products of infringing on 32 patents. Nokia said it tried to approach Apple to license the technologies but was rebuffed by Apple. “Through our sustained investment in research and development, Nokia has created or contributed to many of the fundamental technologies used in today’s mobile devices, including Apple products,” Nokia’s head of patents Ilkka Rahnasto said in December. “After several years of negotiations trying to reach agreement to cover Apple’s use of these patents, we are now taking action to defend our rights.” Apple’s suit was also filed in Europe.
Apple responded to Nokia with a lawsuit of its own, accusing Nokia of conspiring with patent trolls to try to shake it up for a big payday.
“With its cell phone business dying, Nokia began to seek out willing conspirators and to commence its illegal patent transfer scheme in full force; that scheme has continued in full effect to the present,” Apple said last month. “The driving force behind Nokia’s strategy was to diffuse its patent portfolio and place it in the hands of PAEs. Acacia and Conversant were its chief conspirators.”
Can the US ITC get to the bottom of this sticky business?
Nokia is indeed re-entering the smartphone business, so one can see why it wants to defend its patents, but the inventions are now owned by other companies that are using them to sue Apple. It’s a messy business and maybe the US ITC can get to the bottom of it.