Nokia sues Apple for infringing patents, industry back on war footing

admin   •   December 22, 2016   •   7814

Headquarters of Finnish telecommunication network company Nokia are pictured in Espoo, Finland August 4, 2016. Lehtikuva/Irene Stachon/via REUTERS

Nokia Corp. said on Wednesday it had filed a number of lawsuits against Apple Inc. for violating 32 technology patents, striking back at the iPhone maker’s legal action targeting the one-time cellphone industry leader a day earlier.

Nokia’s lawsuits, filed in courts in Dusseldorf, Mannheim and Munich, Germany, and the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, cover patents for displays, user interfaces, software, antennas, chipsets and video coding.

“Since agreeing a license covering some patents from the Nokia Technologies portfolio in 2011, Apple has declined subsequent offers made by Nokia to license other of its patented inventions which are used by many of Apple’s products,” Nokia said in a statement.

Apple on Tuesday had taken legal action against Acacia Research Corp. and Conversant Intellectual Property Management Inc., accusing them of colluding with Nokia to extract and extort exorbitant revenues unfairly from Apple.

“We’ve always been willing to pay a fair price to secure the rights of patents covering technology in our products,” said Apple spokesman Josh Rosenstock. “Unfortunately, Nokia has refused to license their patents on a fair basis and is now using the tactics of a patent troll to attempt to extort money from Apple by applying a royalty rate to Apple’s own inventions they had nothing to do with.”

Acacia and Conversant did not immediately respond to requests for comment, and Nokia was not immediately available to comment on the Apple lawsuit.

The legal action by Nokia and Apple appear to mark a revival of the “smartphone patent wars” that began five years ago, when Apple filed a series of patent infringement cases against Samsung Electronics around the world, with wins and losses on both sides.

Apple’s lawsuit against Acacia, Conversant and Nokia was filed only one day after Ottawa-based Conversant named Boris Teksler as its new chief executive. He had worked as Apple’s director of patent licensing and strategy from 2009 to 2013, the latter half of his tenure overlapping with the lawsuits against Samsung.

Acacia is a publicly traded patent licensing firm based in Newport Beach, California. One of its subsidiaries sued Apple for patent infringement and was awarded $22 million by a Texas jury in September.

Similarly, Conversant, which claims to own thousands of patents, announced last week that a Silicon Valley jury had awarded one of its units a $7.3 million settlement in an infringement case against Apple involving two smartphone patents.

Nokia, once the world’s dominant cellphone maker, missed out on the transition to smartphones triggered by Apple’s introduction of the iPhone in 2007.

The Finnish company sold its handset business to Microsoft Corp. two years ago, leaving it with its telecom network equipment business and a bulging portfolio of mobile equipment patents.

But this year, Microsoft sold its Nokia-feature phone business to a new company called HMD Global.

Nokia agreed to a 10-year licensing deal with HMD, which continues to market low-cost Nokia phones and plans to introduce new Nokia smartphone models next year. — Reuters

Tech CEOs dodge question on whether China steals technology

UNTV News   •   July 30, 2020

The chief executives of four of the world’s largest tech companies, Amazon.com Inc, Facebook Inc, Apple, and Alphabet’s Google, faced a congressional hearing on Wednesday (July 29) where, amongst other questions, they were asked whether the Chinese government steals technology from U.S. companies.

Rep. Greg Steube of Florida, who presented the question, said he was looking for a “yes or no answer”.

The four executives – Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Google’s Sundar Pichai, and Apple’s Tim Cook – offered a mixed bag of responses, with Zuckerberg coming closest to a direct answer.

“Congressman, I think it’s well documented that the Chinese government steals technology from American companies,” the Facebook CEO said via videoconference.

The day-long hearing marked the first time the four CEOs have appeared together before lawmakers, and was also the first-ever appearance of Bezos before Congress. (Reuters)

(Production: Pavithra George)

Nokia workers protest against planned job cuts in Paris

UNTV News   •   July 9, 2020

Several hundred Nokia workers protested in Paris on Wednesday (July 8) against plans to cut over 1,200 jobs in its French subsidiary Alcatel-Lucent International.

Nokia has said most of the layoffs would come from research and development (R&D) teams. Unions say this is incomprehensible when Europe is preparing to deploy the next generation mobile network.

Member of the French parliament from the ruling party LaRem, Eric Bothorel, who was elected in the northwestern region of Côtes-d’Armor, where there are planned job cuts, said Nokia’s announcement came just after the date set releasing the company from commitments to preserve jobs.

Nokia was bound to job retention commitments when it acquired Alcatel Lucent in 2015. They expired in June.

Bothorel said the move was “making fun of the government” as it targeted people who were recently hired.

Nokia says it will continue to be a major employer in France with a strong foothold in R&D. (Reuters)

(Production: Emilie Delwarde, Thierry Chiarello, Yiming Woo, Ardee Napolitano)

Big Tech faces broad U.S. Justice Department antitrust probe

Robie de Guzman   •   July 24, 2019

The U.S. Justice Department said on Tuesday (July 23) it was opening a broad investigation of major digital technology firms into whether they engage in anti-competitive practices, the strongest sign the Trump administration is stepping up its scrutiny of Big Tech.

The review will look into “whether and how market-leading online platforms have achieved market power and are engaging in practices that have reduced competition, stifled innovation, or otherwise harmed consumers,” the Justice Department said in a statement.

The Justice Department did not identify specific companies but said the review would consider concerns raised about “search, social media, and some retail services online” — an apparent reference to Alphabet Inc, Amazon.com Inc., and Facebook Inc., and potentially, Apple Inc.

A Justice Department spokesman declined to provide a list of companies that would be scrutinized.

Google and Apple declined to comment, referring to prior statements by executives, while Facebook and Amazon did not immediately comment.

Facebook fell 1.7% in after-hours trading, while Alphabet fell 1%, Amazon was down 1.2% and Apple was 0.4% lower.

The announcement comes a day before the Federal Trade Commission is set to announce a $5 billion penalty to Facebook for failing to properly protect user privacy.

Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat, said the Justice Department “must now be bold and fearless in stopping Big Tech’s misuse of its monopolistic power. Too long absent and apathetic, enforcers now must prevent privacy abuse, anti-competitive tactics, innovation roadblocks, and other hallmarks of excessive market power.”

In June, Reuters reported the Trump administration was gearing up to investigate whether Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Alphabet’s Google misuse their massive market power, setting up what could be an unprecedented, wide-ranging probe of some of the world’s largest companies.

A person briefed on the matter said the Justice review may also include some state attorneys general.

The Justice Department said the review “is to assess the competitive conditions in the online marketplace in an objective and fair-minded manner and to ensure Americans have access to free markets in which companies compete on the merits to provide services that users want.”

Reuters reported on May 31 that the Justice Department was preparing an investigation of Google to determine whether the tech giant broke antitrust law.

Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill alike are expressing growing concerns about the size of the largest tech firms and their market power. Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren has called for breaking up companies like Amazon, Apple, Google and Facebook and unwinding prior acquisitions.

Last week, the House Judiciary Committee’s antitrust panel pressed executives from the four firms about their competitive practices and noted that Google, Facebook, Amazon had a rising share of key markets.

Congress held a series of hearings last year looking at the dominance of major tech companies and their role in displacing or swallowing up existing businesses. It is rare for the government to seek to undo a consummated deal. The most famous case in recent memory is the government’s effort to break up Microsoft Corp. The Justice Department won a preliminary victory in 2000 but was reversed on appeal. The case settled with Microsoft intact.

“There is growing consensus among venture capitalists and startups that there is a kill zone around Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Apple that prevents new startups from entering the market with innovative products and services to challenge these incumbents,” said Representative David Cicilline, a Democrat who heads the subcommittee.

Apple CEO Tim Cook told CBS News last month that scrutiny was fair but “if you look at any kind of measure about is Apple a monopoly or not, I don’t think anybody reasonable is going to come to the conclusion that Apple’s a monopoly. Our share is much more modest. We don’t have a dominant position in any market.”

Google’s Adam Cohen told the House Judiciary subcommittee last week that the company had “created new competition in many sectors, and new competitive pressures often lead to concerns from rivals.”

Technology companies face a backlash in the United States and across the world, fueled by concerns among competitors, lawmakers, and consumer groups that they have too much power and are harming users and business rivals.

U.S. President Donald Trump has called for closer scrutiny of social media companies and Google, accusing them of suppressing conservative voices online, without presenting any evidence. (REUTERS)

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