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12.26.16

After Microsoft’s Notorious Intervention Nokia is Nothing But a Patent Troll Whose Patent Portfolio Needs to be Smashed

Posted in Apple, GNU/Linux, Google, Patents at 2:00 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Nokia is now a de facto patent troll that just licenses the brand

Nokia logo with Apple

Summary: Nokia’s saber-rattling (and now lawsuits) against Apple are a worrying sign of what’s to come, impacting Android OEMs as well as Apple, which is why the post-Microsoft Nokia is dangerous

TAKING advantage of USPTO-granted patents (for the most part), Nokia started a patent war against Apple just before Christmas [1, 2] and many journalists/pundits were already on holiday, so they did not have a chance to comment. Maybe this was Nokia’s intention as the timing of the press release was at the very least suspicious. Few were even around to cover the followup action, for instance, this complaint that got covered by Matthias Verbergt who said “Nokia Corp. said Thursday [two days before Christmas] it has filed additional complaints against Apple Inc., alleging the iPhone maker has infringed 40 of its patents.” Florian Müller said “Nokia suing Apple over 40 patents in 11 countries” (yes eleven!).

“Nokia is a European company, so there is a concern here that US culture of litigation is spreading to Europe already (the UPC would make a trolling culture even more prevalent if it ever became a reality).”When Nokia/trolls pick on the industry of mobile phones everybody loses, not just Apple. Android too tends to be affected, sooner if not later (than Apple). Nokia is a European company, so there is a concern here that US culture of litigation is spreading to Europe already (the UPC would make a trolling culture even more prevalent if it ever became a reality).

Florian Müller told me that “during the Apple v. Nokia antitrust lawsuit in California” some interesting information is likely to surface. “With Conversant,” he explained, “formerly known as Mosaid, being one of the defendants, I guess MSFT’s involvement will be at issue and MSFT witnesses will be deposed.”

As a reminder, MOSAID received patents from Nokia, at Microsoft’s instruction. This may become very relevant a piece of evidence at a trial/antitrust probe.

“Android too tends to be affected, sooner if not later (than Apple).”“Nokia Is Playing With Fire With Its Patent Infringement Case Against Apple,” one report explained, and another said “Apple and Nokia Could Each Score Victories as Their Patent Battle Unfolds” (usually only the lawyers win in such scenarios). Android sites rightly treat this as Android news because if Apple loses, then expect Nokia to go after Android OEMs too. The latest developments were barely (if at all) covered by the media, probably just as Nokia had hoped. There are now several articles about this in English alone, but if it didn’t happen shortly before Christmas, we’d expect hundreds of reports if not thousands. Matt Levy wrote a poem about this and today (Boxing Day) Müller said that “Nokia’s litigation tactics and privateering ways are, without a doubt, vexatious. So I couldn’t disagree with Apple if it made the case that it’s just not reasonably acceptable for Apple to have to do “business as usual” with a Nokia subsidiary under the present circumstances.”

“Apple should invoke Alice,” Benjamin Henrion (FFII) wrote, “especially for H264 compression algorithms where captive patent courts still allows them…”

Henrion, a Belgian, is well aware of Nokia’s history of patent aggression — a subject we have been covering here since 2007. Take note of this news from Belgium that speaks of “85% tax deduction for qualifying income from patents, copyrighted software, breeders rights, orphan drugs and data or market exclusivity” (sounds like Patent Boxes, but not exactly the same).

“Henrion, a Belgian, is well aware of Nokia’s history of patent aggression — a subject we have been covering here since 2007.”Apple should definitely move to invalidate Nokia’s patents. All patents (there are 40 of them) should be susceptible to criticism, as examiners are not perfect and there are no flawless examinations. Incidentally, Patently-O has just written about “The “Right” to Challenge a Patent” in an antitrust context. “In his recent article,” it says, “Antitrust Economist (and lawyer) Erik Hovenkamp argues that the “right to challenge a patent” should also be an important consideration in antitrust analysis. Hovenkamp defines these “challenge rights” as “the (statutory) rights of third parties to challenge patents as invalid or uninfringed.” Antitrust comes into play when a license or settlement agreement includes challenge restraints that would contractually prevent the exercise of the challenge rights.”

Sounds very much applicable to the case above and as we have said from the very start, we hope that Apple will demolish those patents of Nokia, which might otherwise be asserted against Android OEMs (if this hasn’t been done in out-of-court settlements already).

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