Apple is a big company with a lot of money and really enjoys letting smaller companies know that by suing them whenever they unwittingly infringe on one of their many patents. It’s been that way for years and has resulted in many companies having to stop production on products and pay a hefty sum into Apple’s coffers. When they stepped into the mobile world Apple thought they’d be able to push everyone around again but, unfortunately for them, there is a company who pretty much run at the top of all sectors of the mobile world and who have just as much money as them. This company, let’s call them Nokia for argument’s sake, aren’t only invested in making phones, they are actually one of the companies that evolve the industry with new technology on the network front and, as such, have over ten thousand patents related to technology that is considered essential to making a mobile phone (connecting to the network, and using any GSM, UMTS or WLAN technologies) and that all other phone manufacturers licence from them for a fee.
The patents are usually licensed on the principle “fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms” and while licences have been paid by most companies in the business, Nokia has signed agreements with other technology patent holders allowing shared usage, creating a small group of the companies who create the industry as it is today and license their technology to all other companies in the business. All companies except for Apple who have decided they don’t need to pay such license fees. Nokia has noted that Apple has infringed on patents that cover wireless data, speech coding, security and encryption and that the infringements are present in all three versions of the iPhone. Having pursued their license fees behind the scenes for two years (Nokia prefers to leave legal action as the last possible choice) unsuccessfully, Nokia has been left with no further choice but to sue and legal action was announced on the 22nd of October 2009. Apple haven’t contributed anything to the networks meaning they’re in no position to do a patent swap like the other big companies and will lose a substantial amount of money in this case even if they settle.
So, the big bully of the technology playground has met someone equally big who doesn’t normally throw their weight around, and is getting it’s ass handed to them by that normally pacifist kid in the playground. As well as being an analogy of my school days that, my friends, is karma.