Could the former phone giant be turning into a patent troll?

After failing to strike a new deal with Apple, Nokia is suing the iPhone maker for patent infringement in both Germany and the U.S.

The two companies had a deal in 2011 that covered some Nokia patents, but Nokia says efforts to reach a broader pact have gone nowhere.

“Nokia has created or contributed to many of the fundamental technologies used in today’s mobile devices, including Apple products,” Nokia patent head Ilkka Rahnasto said in a statement. “After several years of negotiations trying to reach an agreement to cover Apple’s use of these patents, we are now taking action to defend our rights.”

One of the big concerns in the phone industry has been just how agressive Nokia might be in pursuing large patent claims now that it is no longer in the phone-making business. (New phones are being introduced under the Nokia brand, but through a brand licensing deal, not because Nokia itself is selling phones.)

Nokia’s remaining business is largely focused on making network equipment, though its smaller Nokia Technologies unit has a mission to both innovate in new areas and license the company’s brand and vast patent portfolio.

Patent lawsuits once dominated the mobile field, with nearly everyone either suing, being sued, or both. In recent years, though, the profile of new cases being filed has waned with many of the cases from earlier years either being settled or wrapping up.

The new spat between Apple and Samsung raises the spectre that their could be another upswing in such cases.

As part of its legal assault on Apple, Nokia filed suit in two regional courts in Germany and multiple suits in the Eastern District of Texas, alleging infringement of 32 patents covering everything from displays to user interface to chipsets and antennas. More actions in other courts are in the works, Nokia said.

Apple, meanwhile, filed its own suit this week against several other patent holding entities it says conspired with Nokia to extract excessive patent royalties.

The two companies have been to court before, with both sides suing one another back in 2009. That led to the 2011 accord.

An Apple representative was not immediately available for comment.


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Author: Ina Fried

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