Trade commission investigating Apple's claims against Nokia

The saga continues.

The U.S. International Trade Commission said it will investigate Apple's patent-infringement claims against Nokia, and decide whether to ban the U.S. importation of the infringing Nokia products. The decision comes roughly three weeks after the ITC said it would investigate Nokia's own patent-infringement claims against Apple to determine whether imports of Apple devices should be banned.

Though the war of words between the two companies has been fierce and has grown increasingly bitter, it could take up to 15 months for the ITC to complete its investigation and decide on a settlement.

Nokia kicked off its battle with Apple in October with a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Delaware alleging Apple's iPhone infringes on ten Nokia patents. Apple fired back in December, alleging Nokia products infringe on 13 of its own patents. In its countersuit, Apple laid out in fiery rhetoric its position on the matter. "Other companies must compete with us by inventing their own technologies, not just by stealing ours," Bruce Sewell, Apple's general counsel, said in a statement at the time. Nokia then took its case to the ITC.

Although the battle largely settles around patents, the broader implication of the dispute is the pressure that Apple and other smartphone makers have been bringing to Nokia and other established OEMs.

However, Nokia has shown it can fend off its challengers. In the fourth quarter, Nokia's global smartphone market share shot up to 40 percent, charging back after it dropped to 35 percent in the third quarter. The company shipped 20.8 million smartphone units in the fourth quarter of 2009, up from 15.1 million in the fourth quarter of 2008 and 16.4 million units in the third quarter. By contrast, Apple shipped 8.7 million iPhones in the fourth quarter, which was its most ever.

Nokia representatives did not immediatly respond to a request for comment.

For more:
- see this Bloomberg article

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