Nokia let loose with a barrage of patent lawsuits, as the mobile phone maker filed claims in the United States and Germany alleging that products from rival handset makers HTC and Research In Motion, and electronics manufacturer Viewsonic infringe on a number of Nokia patents. In total, 45 Nokia patents are included in the actions.
"Nokia is a leader in many technologies needed for great mobile products," said Louise Pentland, chief legal officer at Nokia. "We have already licensed our standard essential patents to more than 40 companies. Though we’d prefer to avoid litigation, Nokia had to file these actions to end the unauthorized use of our proprietary innovations and technologies, which have not been widely licensed."
Nokia’s actions include a complaint to the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) against HTC, suits against HTC and Viewsonic in the Federal District Court of Delaware, complaints against HTC and RIM in the Regional Court in Dusseldorf, Germany, and against all three companies in the Regional Courts in Mannheim and Munich, Germany.
The company argues proprietary innovations protected by these patents are being used by the companies to enable certain hardware capabilities, such as dual-function antennas, power management and multimode radios, as well as to enhance software features, including application stores, multitasking, navigation, conversational message display, dynamic menus, data encryption and retrieval of email attachments on a mobile device.
"Many of these inventions are fundamental to Nokia products," Pentland said. "We’d rather that other companies respect our intellectual property and compete using their own innovations, but as these actions show, we will not tolerate the unauthorized use of our inventions."
During an April 19 earnings call, the company outlined challenges it faces and its strategies aimed at establishing itself as the mobile industrys No. 3 player. It is struggling to sustain sales as the Apple iPhone and handsets from Samsung (which just passed Nokia in worldwide handset sales, ending Nokias 14-year reign) dominate the market. Nokia’s Symbian phone shipments declined precipitously last quarter as demand dropped in key emerging markets, such as China, according to a report from IT research firm IDC.
Despite major overhauls, new-product pushes and an expansion into 31 countries, Nokia saw net sales in its 2012 fiscal first quarter drop 29 percent year-over-year and 26 percent from the previous quarter.
Nokias big bet, if not for a comeback, then a turnaround, centers around its new relationship with Microsoft, since the companys Windows Phone operating system runs on Nokias new Lumia smartphone line. The lower-end Lumia 710 model became available from T-Mobile, and weeks later, AT&T began selling the high-end Lumia 900.
In February, Nokia revealed that it plans to cut thousands of jobs related to phone manufacturing as it shifts production from Europe to Asia by the end of 2012. The cuts will occur at three factories in Finland, Mexico and Hungary.