Nokia vs Apple - Patent Fights Are About Money Not Right vs Wrong

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Apple says Nokia is partnered with "patent trolls."

Nokia was one of the creators of the cell phone industry but its once booming business in making and selling devices was washed away by the incoming tide of smart phones, Apple's i-phone most of all. Meanwhile, Apple's hottest new product utilized dozens of Nokia patents. In 2011 a first round of patent litigation between the companies was settled with a 5-year royalty deal worth some $720 million. That deal ends this coming December 31st and Nokia wants to insure that income from royalties continues. Thus, earlier this week, Nokia filed a lawsuit against Apple for violating 32 patents in Europe.

This lawsuit is part of the larger story that Nokia has partnered with companies politely known as patent assertion entities, to maximize the royalties that can be extracted from Apple. Patent assertion entities ("PAEs") are derogatorily called "patent trolls" by the companies they target. Apple recently filed a lawsuit against Conversant Property Management and Acacia Research claiming that these companies and others are conspiring with Nokia in a scheme to to extract exorbitant royalties in a way that Nokia could not on its own.

There's no right or wrong in this story. There's only business. The lesson for independent inventors is that a) even a multi-billion dollar corporation like Nokia benefits from working with patent assertion entities and b) the tech world is a hard place for independent inventors to prosper.

More on Nokia versus Apple from the Wall Street Journal

- Mike

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