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Nokia expands iPhone dispute

LONG FIGHT AHEAD The Finnish phone company claims that key aspects of Apple products, including cameras and antennas, violate its intellectual property

AP AND AFP , NEW YORK AND WASHINGTON

Nokia Corp is broadening a legal dispute it already has with Apple Inc over the iPhone, saying almost all of the company’s other products also violate the Finnish phone maker’s patents.

Nokia said on Tuesday it had filed a complaint against Apple with the US International Trade Commission, alleging Apple’s iPhone, iPods and computers all violate Nokia’s intellectual property rights.

At issue are key features found in Apple products, including aspects of user interface, cameras, antenna and power management technologies, Nokia said. The company claims that the technologies in question help cut manufacturing costs, reduce device size and prolong battery life.

A household name in Asia and Europe, Nokia is a smaller player in the US, where its smartphones face tough competition from Apple’s iPhone and Research in Motion Ltd’s BlackBerry devices. Nokia, the world’s largest cellphone maker, has cautioned that its own market share volume, currently at some 38 percent, would be flat next year.

The company, which is based in Espoo, Finland, has already sued Apple in US District Court in Wilmington, Delaware, over the massively popular iPhone, claiming it infringes on 10 of its patents related to phone calls and Wi-Fi access.

Apple has denied the charges and this month countered with its own lawsuit in the Delaware court, saying Nokia has copied aspects of the iPhone in its devices. Apple claims Nokia is violating its patent rights on technology for connecting phones to computers, teleconferencing and touch-screen menus, among other things.

Federal lawsuits allow companies to seek monetary damages and court orders to end certain practices. With complaints before the US International Trade Commission, companies could get an order for Customs to stop imports of products made with the disputed technology. Many of Apple’s products and parts are made abroad.

Apple, which has its headquarters in Cupertino, California, did not return messages seeking comment on Tuesday.

Separately, Google announced plans on Tuesday to hold a press event next month about its Android mobile phone operating system amid speculation the Internet giant plans to release its own smartphone.

Google invited reporters to attend an “Android press gathering” next Tuesday at the company’s Mountain View, California, headquarters.

“With the launch of the first Android-powered device just over a year ago, we’ve seen how a powerful, open platform can spur mobile product innovation,” the invitation said. “And this is just the beginning of what’s possible,” it said.

The invitation provided no further details about the event.

But it comes amid reports Google is preparing to release a Google-branded smartphone known as “Nexus One,” which would be sold directly to consumers and would not be tied to any one telecom carrier.

Google employees have been testing the device internally.

A growing number of US telecom carriers and manufacturers have been adopting Google’s open-source Android software in bids to challenge the iPhone and BlackBerry.

Although Android’s share of the US smartphone market is relatively small, it has doubled in the past year to 3.5 percent in October, comScore said.

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