Part 1: Nokia Files an 8 Count Patent Infringement Case against Apple Primarily Focused on the H.264 Standard
On December 21, Patently Apple posted a report titled "Apple Files a Major Antitrust Case against Acacia Research Corporation Pointing to a Conspiracy with Nokia Corporation." I had written a report in September wondering if the EU Commission would open an antitrust case against Nokia for having their patents being behind a patent troll case that beat Apple. So it was satisfying to see Apple launch their lawsuit this week on that very basis of Nokia being behind the Acacia Research case. Even Florian Mueller of FOSS Patents weighed in and accused Nokia of being a patent troll in a report this week. He stated that "Today's announcement by Nokia shows how much of a troll it has become."
Nokia responded to Apple's lawsuit by hammering them with a series of patent infringement cases covering 40 patents in 11 countries. The FOSS Patents report noted above then noted that Apple had launched an antitrust case against Nokia in Europe as can be seen in the graphic of a docket below.
Thus far Patently Apple has been able to access two of Nokia's lawsuits filed in the Texas Eastern District Court. Both note the Plaintiff as formally being Nokia Technologies Oy and Alcatel-Lucent USA Inc. The focus of this first lawsuit is the H.264 standard. Apple is part of the AVC/H.264 patent list and pays fees to the MPEG LA patent pool for use of the technology.
The list published by this group shows the patents that make up the standard. Apple contributed to this standard and is a legal participant in this standard along with many other companies and hundreds of supporting patents. I was unable to find Nokia, Alcatel or Lucent listed as a participant or having patents regarding the standard. If Apple has a license with this patent pool, it's difficult to understand Nokia's argument. Yet with that said, below is Nokia's formal complaint.
The Complaint: Nature of the Action
Nokia states in their formal complaint before the court that "Each of the Nokia Patents-in-Suit (defined below) relates to video coding. For example, each of the Nokia Patents-in-Suit include claims directed to encoding or decoding video compliant with the H.264 Advanced Video Coding standard promulgated by the International Telecommunication Union ("ITU"). Apple's products, which support H.264 video, including the iPhone, iPad, iPod, Apple Watch, Mac computer products, and Apple digital media players such as Apple TV, infringe Nokia's patents asserted in this case. Nokia's patents asserted in this suit cover fundamental and innovative contributions made by Nokia to video coding technologies, including the H.264 standard, that reduce the amount of digital data needed to represent video. Nokia's innovations allow video to be transmitted over communications networks, such as cellular networks, with high quality and dramatically lower bandwidth requirements. Nokia's innovations also significantly reduce the size of video files, allowing more efficient storage on mobile devices such as the iPhone and iPad. Apple has benefited greatly from Nokia's innovations, which have enabled Apple products to more efficiently and effectively stream video over communications networks.
Despite all the advantages that have been enjoyed by Apple, Apple has steadfastly refused to agree to license Nokia's H.264 patents on reasonable terms. Dozens of companies have licensed Nokia's patents for use in their products that support the H.264 standard at Nokia's established royalty rates. Apple, however, refuses to pay Nokia's established royalty rates. Apple's unwillingness to negotiate a license to Nokia's patented H.264 technology in good faith has forced Nokia to institute this case for patent infringement."
The Eight Counts of Patent Infringement against Apple
For those wanting to delve into this case a little deeper technically could do so by reviewing the patents that Nokia alleges that Apple Inc. has infringed upon as listed below:
Patent 7,532,808 entitled "Method for Coding Motion in a Video Sequence,"
Patent 6,950,469 entitled "Method for Sub-Pixel Value Interpolation,"
Patent 8,036,273 entitled "Method for Sub-Pixel Value Interpolation,"
Patent 8,144,764 entitled "Video Coding,"
Patent 6,968,005 entitled "Video coding,"
Patent 6,711,211 entitled "Method for Encoding and Decoding Video Information, a Motion Compensated Video Encoder and a Corresponding Decoder,"
Patent 6,856,701 entitled "Method and System for Context-Based Adaptive Binary Arithmetic Coding," and
Patent 6,680,974 entitled "Methods and apparatus for context selection of block transform coefficients"
In addition to providing you with a full list of linked patents to review is a full copy of Nokia's formal complaint below. In here you'll be able to see Nokia's technical arguments and political posturing as it relates to Apple's alleged infringement of their intellectual property regarding the H.246 standard.
The patent infringement case presented in today's report was filed in the Texas Eastern District Court. The Presiding Judge in this case is noted as being Judge Rodney Gilstrap.