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Apple, what have you done? Nokia files patent lawsuits against HTC, RIM and Viewsonic

May 4, 2012

Just when we started to hope that the longstanding legal battle between Apple and Samsung might reach a “friendly” end, another (former) important player in the smartphone market announced the start of what could be an even more epic patent war.

Nokia, who just a year ago was the number one smartphone manufacturer in the world, but quickly dropped to third place behind Apple and Samsung, has set its sights on more “modest” targets. That’s right, targets, as in plural, because the Finnish have filed a total of 11 lawsuits in the US and Germany against HTC, RIM, and Viewsonic, covering no less than 45 patents.

“We have already licensed our standards essential patents to more than 40 companies. Though we’d prefer to avoid litigation, Nokia had to file these actions to end the unauthorized use of our proprietary innovations and technologies, which have not been widely licensed.” says Nokia in a press release issued earlier today.

Nokia’s complaints against HTC have been registered at the US International Trade Commission (ITC), in the Regional Court in Dusseldorf, Germany, and in the Federal District Court of Delaware. RIM has its own lawsuit on its hands in the Regional Court in Dusseldorf, while Viewsonic is the target of a legal action filed in the Federal District Court of Delaware.

HTC, RIM, and Viewsonic are also the joint target of cases set to be trialed in the Regional Courts of Mannheim and Munich, Germany.

Nokia’s accusations against the three companies involve a wide array of patents concerning “ proprietary innovations” in mobile hardware, such as dual function antennas, power management, and multimode radios, but also software features including app stores, multitasking, navigation, dynamic menus, data encryption, and so long and so forth.

The list of features accused to have been “stolen” by HTC, RIM, and Viewsonic from Nokia is generous enough to make us think we’ll have another painfully long legal war to follow. It will be interesting to see if the Finnish giant will in fact have the resources to withstand such a time-consuming and money-eating dispute.

If you haven’t heard, Nokia is reportedly having serious financial issues, with earnings and profits dropping significantly for the past year or so. If I were to joke about these legal mess involving Apple, Samsung, and now Nokia, HTC, RIM, and Viewsonic, I would say that the iPhone makers should themselves sue Nokia for copying their idea of filing legal actions against the competition.

All jokes aside, Nokia might have real grounds for filing these copyright infringement lawsuits, which is why we’ll keep a close eye on the matter in the following weeks and we’ll report back once we find out anything of interest. Keep in touch!