Nokia Sues RIM, HTC, And Viewsonic For Patent Infringement


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Another day, another patent suit. This one, shockingly, does not involve any of the companies whose patent infringement woes you're probably used to hearing about - Apple, Samsung, Motorola, Microsoft. Nope, this time it's Nokia. The company announced today that they have filed suit against RIM, HTC, and Viewsonic for alleged infringement of several Nokia patents.

According to Nokia's announcement, they have filed a complaint against HTC to the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC; let's all try to keep our _TC acronyms straight). They have also filed suit HTC and Viewsonic in U.S. District Court in Delaware, against RIM and HTC in the Regional Court of Dusseldorf, Germany, and against HTC, RIM, and Viewsonic in the Munich and Mannheim Regional Courts.

Nokia accuses the three companies of violating a total of 45 Nokia patents for a wide variety of technologies. The allegedly infringed patents cover things like "dual function antennas, power management and multimode radios, as well as to enhance software features including application stores, multitasking, navigation, conversational message display, dynamic menus, data encryption and retrieval of email attachments on a mobile device."

The patented technologies are, according to Louise Pentland, Nokia's chief legal counsel, "fundamental to Nokia products."

Florian Mueller of FOSS Patents got a look at the actual patents at issue in each case, and has determined that the primary target of Nokia's action is HTC. The company's ITC complaint covers nine patents, while the U.S. suit includes those nine and nine more. The three suits in Mannheim, Dusseldorf, and Munich are concerned with nine, four, and three patents, respectively. Viewsonic appears to be a secondary target, with the U.S. suit covering 17 patents (15 of which overlap with the suit against HTC). Nokia's suits against Viewsonic in Mannhiem and Munich show similar overlap. The suits against RIM are limited to Germany, and in each of the three venues RIM is accused of violating significantly fewer patents than HTC or Viewsonic.

All in all, Nokia's action constitutes ten lawsuits and one ITC complaint in two countries. It is unclear what Nokia is seeking, though injunctions and damages are likely.

Nokia has struggled significantly in recent months. The company posted a first quarter loss of $1.7 billion and lost its spot as the world's top mobile phone vendor to Samsung.

Interestingly, patent suits have proven quite lucrative for Nokia in the past. Last summer the company settled a lengthy suit against Apple. As part of the settlement Apple gave Nokia a one-time payment of $600 million, and agreed to pay royalties of €8 ($10.60) for every iPhone sold. As a result, in a quarter when Nokia lost $290 million on its own mobile phone business, they made roughly $372 million iPhone royalties.