Smartphones are quickly becoming one of the newest, hottest technologies on the market. But with any new technology, the boundaries remain too new to be defined. Enter what I think will be one of the defining lawsuits in mobile patent law.
If you hadn't heard, Nokia shook the telecom world by announcing that they were suing Apple over patent infringement, saying that Apple used their technology in every one of the new iPhones and should be banned until Apple agrees to pay royalties. (A very good article about how patent royalties and FRAND terms work in the wireless sphere currently is over at Engadget.)
In December, Apple counter-sued saying that Nokia was infringing on their design patents. Nokia then widened their case, taking it before the US International Trace Commission (ITC).
Apparently, what started this whole ruckus is not Nokia's jealousy over the success of the iPhone though many bloggers suggest that, it is instead the use of patented technology that all smartphones with wifi access need to use. Nokia may not sell the most phones but it contributes over half of the necessary technology needed to make your phone work. What Nokia asked for in its original suit was that Apple just pony-up the money for the right to use these patents on the iPhone.
Apple countered with a suit claiming Nokia infringed its design patents. This only made Nokia push their case further, asking for the review by ITC and saying that Apple infringes patents not just with the iPhone, but with practically all its devices.
Its doesn't matter who you think might be "right" in this case, its certainly complicated. The point is that these cases will ultimately decide how royalties connected to wifi technology will be used in the future. This will be a precedent-setting case and worth watching.
Do you think Nokia is just sue-happy or has a valid case? What about Apple's counter-sue? What do you think the final outcome might be (we won't know for another year probably)?