Nokia inventions seen to be crucial for iPhone
“Without them, the iPhone would be just an iPod”
The dispute between the Finnish telephone giant Nokia and its competitor Apple mainly involves patents made in Finland in the 1990s and the early part of this decade.
The innovations, over which Nokia is suing Apple for patent infringement, were developed at the Nokia Research and Development centres in Helsinki, Tampere, and Oulu.
The oldest of the disputed inventions was patented in 1993, when Apple was still known primarily as a manufacturer of Mac computers.
“All of the patents would seem to be inventions involving radio connections and wireless data transfer. Without them, a mobile phone will simply not work”, says Professor Jukka Manner, an expert in data networks. “Without these inventions, Apple’s iPhone would just be an iPod.”
Manner says that many of the patents involve switching from one base station to another, which is very important, especially when a mobile phone is on the move. During travel in a car, the base station can change many times in a short period of time.
Apple is seen to be in a weak position in the actual dispute. Nokia notes that 40 other mobile telephone manufacturers have agreed to Nokia’s terms, and recognised the patents as valid, making it potentially very difficult for Apple to show that Nokia’s demands would be unreasonable, or that the patents would be invalid.
The dispute specifically involves the terms of licencing agreements, or how much Apple should pay Nokia, and on what basis the amount of compensation that Nokia is due should be calculated.
Three of the patents under dispute have involved 42-year-old Jukka vialen, and engineer from Espoo. Vialen estimates that he has had between 30 and 40 inventions patented by Nokia.
Inventions patented by Nokia employees are the property of Nokia, but the innovators are compensated. Vialen says that the compensation that he has received has been “quite reasonable”.
The litigation can take years, unless Nokia and Apple manage to settle out of court.
Nokia has long emphasised how important patent rights are in wireless communications. Ericsson and Qualcomm also have large patent portfolios.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Nokia sues Apple over patent infringements (23.10.2009)