Nokia's Is Mad As Hell and Won't Stop Suing

Nokia, which is losing share -- and mindshare -- in the smartphone market, has turned to litigation as a revenue strategy and seems hell-bent on extracting licensing revenue from Apple. Two years ago the company iinitiated mutiple legal actions against Cupertino, alleging numerous patent infringements. Starting in late 2009 and adding more actions in 2010 the Finland-based company sought to block the "import" of Apple devices by appealing to the International Trade Commission (ITC).

Nokia claims that a range of patents on touchscreens, music and camera technologies are being infringed by the iPhone and other Apple devices. Apple counter-sued Nokia on similar grounds. (Actually the mobile patent litigation is flying back and forth between multiple companies.) And the ITC on Friday ruled that Apple's products do not violate Nokia's patents. The ITC has not yet ruled on Apple's claims against Nokia.

However, if at first you don't succeed . . . and so today Nokia announced new patent-related complaints with the ITC:

Nokia has filed a further complaint with the United States International Trade Commission (ITC) alleging that Apple infringes additional Nokia patents in virtually all of its mobile phones, portable music players, tablets and computers.

The seven Nokia patents in the new complaint relate to Nokia's pioneering innovations that are now being used by Apple 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.

This second ITC complaint follows the initial determination in Nokia's earlier ITC filing, announced by the ITC on Friday, March 25. Nokia does not agree with the ITC's initial determination that there was no violation of Section 337 in that complaint and is waiting to see the full details of the ruling before deciding on the next steps in that case.

In addition to the two ITC complaints, Nokia has filed cases on the same patents and others in Delaware, US and has further cases proceeding in Mannheim, Dusseldorf and the Federal Patent Court in Germany, the UK High Court in London and the District Court of the Hague in the Netherlands, some of which will come to trial in the next few months.

As the statement above indicates, Nokia has filed suits in the US and Europe against Apple. It may well be that one of the European actions succeeds in some aspect; however Apple may also succeed in its patent claims in one or more ways against Nokia.

The reciprocal actions are a by-product of failed licensing negotiations between the companies. 

Off the court, so to speak, Nokia's CEO Stephen Elop is struggling to transform the company's culture and boost productivity. Complacency and bureaucracy have been blamed for Nokia's diminishing fortunes in the smartphone market. 

Of course Nokia has bet the farm on Windows Phones, walking away from Symbian and MeeGo in favor of Redmon's software. But the first of those Nokisoft devices won't be out until 2012 according to reports. Windows Phones have seen mixed success thus far. Multiple sources indicate that the OS is not making inroads in the US market. The handsets are apparently faring better in Europe according to IDC: "The new Windows Phone 7 from Microsoft reversed its fortunes and grew 18% year-on-year and 100% sequentially [in Q4]." 

Overall there are claims that Microsoft has sold roughly 3 million Windows Phones since launch. Microsoft said in January that it sold 2 million handsets. However these numbers refer to shipments and not necessarily to consumer purchases.