ITC takes Nokia's side in Apple patent battle

Trade commission staff urges judge to rule for Nokia in iPhone patent infringement dispute

Apple has not proved that rival phone maker Nokia infringed Apple patents, the staff of the U.S. International Trade Commission said in a pre-trial memo last week.

In the memorandum, which was written Oct. 27 but made public Tuesday, the ITC staff argued that, "the evidence will not establish a violation ... as to any of the asserted patents."

Both Apple and Finnish phone maker Nokia have petitioned the ITC to block imports of each other's smartphones based on patent violation claims.

Last January, Apple charged Nokia with violating several of its patents -- including ones related to power management, device booting and object-oriented graphics -- and asked the ITC to bar its rival from bringing phones into the U.S.

Nokia rebutted those claims in March 2010.

The trial, which kicked off Monday and may run into the middle of the month, will focus primarily on Nokia's N900, N97, N86, N8 and E71 smartphones, which rely on Nokia's Symbian operating system and Nokia's Qt cross-platform application development technology, the staff said.

Qt lets developers craft Web applications, then compile them for multiple platforms, including desktop and mobile systems.

In the heavily redacted memo -- which was also densely packed with technical details and analyses of each patent violation charge -- the ITC staff argued that some sections of the Apple's patents were invalid, while others were not infringed.

"The Staff is of the view that the evidence will not show infringement for any of the accused Nokia products," the memo stated in a section discussing Apple's power management patent violation claims.

The patent dispute between Apple and Nokia began over a year ago when Nokia filed a civil lawsuit in U.S. federal court, claiming Apple infringed 10 of its patents related to wireless technologies used in the iPhone. As it submitted that lawsuit, Nokia claimed that Apple was getting a "free ride on the back of Nokia's innovation."

Apple countersued in December, charging Nokia with violating 13 of its patents.

In December 2009, Nokia followed its first lawsuit with another that alleged Apple violated seven additional patents, then in March added the iPad to the list of infringing products.

Those lawsuits were put on hold while the ITC investigated the separate complaints from both companies.

ITC Judge Charles Bullock is currently slated to issue his preliminary ruling on the Apple complaint in February 2011, with a final judgment scheduled for next June after a six-member panel reviews Bullock's findings. If Bullock does rule for Apple, the ITC staff suggested that he only ban specific Nokia models from importation by issuing a "limited exclusion order, or LEO.

"Should a violation of Section 337 nonetheless be found, the Staff believes that the evidence will show the appropriate remedy is a limited exclusion order (LEO)," the memorandum stated.

Meanwhile, Nokia's complaint to the ITC isn't slated to be heard until later this month. The ITC staff has not yet published a position memo in that complaint.

Apple and Nokia are not the only mobile operating system vendors duking it out in court or before the ITC. Apple has sued HTC and Motorola over patents, Motorola has sued Apple, and Microsoft has sued Motorola .

Neither Nokia or Apple immediately responded to requests for comment about the ITC staff's position.

Join the newsletter!


Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags smartphonesNokiaApplesymbianPhonesconsumer electronicsITCMacintoshU.S. International Trade CommissionDRM and Legal Issues

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Gregg Keizer

Gregg Keizer

Computerworld (US)
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill


I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?