Late last week, mobile-device giant Nokia filed a new lawsuit against Apple, alleging that the Cupertino company's iPad 3G device infringes upon five of its patents. Nokia had previously sued Apple for patent violations in its iPhone smartphone, and Apple countersued Nokia shortly thereafter.
"Nokia has been the leading developer of many key technologies in mobile devices" said Nokia General Manager Paul Melin. "We have taken this step to protect the results of our pioneering development and to put an end to continued unlawful use of Nokia's innovation."
Nokia originally sued Apple in October 2009, alleging that the iPhone infringes upon 11 of its patents. Apple countersued in December 2009, claiming that Nokia, in turn, is infringing on 13 Apple patents. "Other companies must compete with us by inventing their own technologies, not just by stealing ours," Apple General Counsel Bruce Sewell said at the time. The United States International Trade Commission (ITC) agreed to investigate Apple's patent claims against Nokia in February 2010.
Interestingly, the new Nokia suit applies only to the recently released 3G versions of the iPad, which utilize a broadband wireless connection similar to those used in smartphones. The Wi-Fi-based versions of the iPad, which don't include the 3G antenna, aren't included in the suit.
Nokia says that it has invested over $50 billion in research and development costs over the past 20 years, building one of the wireless industry's strongest intellectual property portfolios along the way. The company owns more than 11,000 patent families.
Nokia has also dominated the smartphone market for years. But growth has slowed dramatically recently, and Nokia is facing a lot of pressure from BlackBerry maker Research in Motion (RIM), as well as Apple. In the most recent quarter, Nokia controlled 39.3 percent of the smartphone market, according to IDC, compared with 19.4 percent for RIM and 16.1 percent for Apple. But Nokia experienced no year-over-year growth at all, while RIM grew slightly and Apple grew about 50 percent.
Apple also recently sued smartphone handset maker HTC, which makes devices based on Google Android and Microsoft's Windows Mobile. That suit is seen as a proxy attack on Google, whose Android system is also growing very quickly—even faster than the iPhone, in fact.