Nokia asks court to bar US imports of Apple's Macs, iPhones, iPods

Files second patent infringement suit; asks court to block most Apple hardware from entering U.S.

Nokia last week asked a federal court to block Apple from importing virtually any of Apple's current hardware into the U.S., including the iPhone, iPod and Mac lines.

The lawsuit -- the second Nokia has filed against Apple in the patent war that broke out last October -- is nearly identical to the complaint the Finnish phone manufacturer filed with the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) on Dec. 29. In that complaint, Nokia also demanded that Apple be barred from bringing "all of Apple's electronic devices that infringe one or more claims of the Asserted Patents" into the U.S.

Nokia's second lawsuit, which was also filed Dec. 29, used similar language as it requested relief from a Delaware federal court. "Nokia prays for judgment and relief against Apple ... for a permanent injunction enjoining Apple, its officers, agents, servants, employees and all other persons in concert or participation with it from further infringement, contributory infringement, and inducement of infringement of the Asserted Patents," Nokia's lawsuit read.

Elsewhere in the filing, Nokia spelled out the seven patents it alleges Apple has infringed, and for each, claimed that only an injunction would stop Apple from further abuse. "Apple's acts have caused, and unless restrained and enjoined, will continue to cause, irreparable injury and damage to Nokia for which there is no adequate remedy at law," Nokia argued. "Unless enjoined by this court, Apple will continue to infringe the ... patent."

Nokia has not, however, filed a motion specifically asking the court to slap an injunction on Apple's hardware sales. The case has not yet been assigned a judge.

The lawsuit claimed that virtually every major piece of hardware Apple sells infringes one or more of the seven patents. The complete list includes the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS smart phones; the iPod Touch, iPod Nano and iPod Classic music players; the iMac Mac Mini and Mac Pro desktops; and the MacBook, MacBook Pro and MacBook Air notebooks.

Nokia fired the first salvo in the battle last October, when it accused Apple's iPhone with infringing 10 of its patents, and said the American firm was trying "to get a free ride on the back of Nokia's innovation."

Apple denied those charges in a Dec. 11 countersuit against Nokia in which it claimed that the phone maker infringed 13 Apple patents. "Other companies must compete with us by inventing their own technologies, not just by stealing ours," said Bruce Sewell, Apple's general counsel, in a statement at the time.

By demanding an injunction, Nokia is bringing out the big legal guns. In Apple's most recently-reported quarter, for instance, the company generated nearly $4.3 billion in revenues in the U.S. on Mac sales alone.

At times, such tactics work. Late in 2009, small Canadian developer i4i was granted an injunction that banned U.S. sales of Microsoft's Word 2003, Word 2007, Office 2003 and Office 2007 software unless the American giant modified the programs. Microsoft has until Jan. 10 to make those changes.

Nokia asked for a jury trial in its second lawsuit, and wants Apple to pay damages, with interest, if the company is found guilty of patent infringement.

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Gregg Keizer

Computerworld (US)
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