Nokia expands patent row with Apple in Europe

Thu Dec 16, 2010 2:44pm EST
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By Chris Borowski

HELSINKI (Reuters) - Nokia, the world's top cellphone maker by volume, has opened new fronts in Europe in its patent war with iPhone maker Apple, launching lawsuits in Germany and the Netherlands.

The 13 new complaints for using Nokia's technology are part of an escalating battle between the two rivals in the smartphone arena that started more than a year ago when Nokia filed its first case in the United States.

Apple, which was not immediately available for comment on Thursday, has also sued Nokia over patents in the United States and Britain. It remains engaged in patent disputes with Motorola Inc, HTC Corp and other mobile phone vendors using Google Inc's Android operating system.

Apple's iPhone and devices running on Android have carved out a large chunk of the lucrative and quickly expanding smartphone market, in large at the expense of Nokia, which has stuck mainly to its old workhorse Symbian software.

"Nokia is on its back foot and may see any potential legal fight as a way of striking back at Apple," said Neil Mawston, analyst at research firm Strategy Analytics.

"Patent fights are becoming an increasing part of the landscape with companies seeking any strategic advantage possible," he added.

Seeking to regain its footing, Nokia hired former Microsoft executive Stephen Elop as chief executive three months ago. He is expected to provide his new vision for the company in February.

Nokia's shares have fallen 15 percent this year as its share of the smartphone market sank, while the Stoxx Europe 600 Technology index has gained 13 percent. It has also struggled with the roll-outs of its latest answers to the iPhone -- the N8 and the E7 models.   Continued...