Patents are an important element of innovation and progress. Without them, inventors and companies in Las Vegas and elsewhere would be unable to legally protect their new products, plans and blueprints from infringement. However, patent law may give rise to disputes, if entities disagree over who holds the rights to a patent or who has permission to use the intellectual property.

An ongoing series of lawsuits between Nokia Corp. and Apple Inc. focuses on numerous patents the former cellphone maker, Nokia, holds claim to. Apple executives recently filed legal action against Nokia, alleging the Nokia company is using some of its patents to extort overly large royalties from the smartphone giant. Apple claims Nokia breached its contract and is seeking financial damages.

Meanwhile, executives from Nokia claim that Apple iPhones, tablets and other devices infringe on dozens of its patented technologies. In 2011, the Apple company settled on a previous lawsuit and agreed it would pay licensing royalties for the use of certain Nokia-invented technologies in its products.

Patents may be a complex source of contention between companies that own them and others who use them. Some may not realize they are infringing on a patented product, while others believe that some protected ideas are too broad and should not belong to a single entity. The results of the lawsuit between Apple and Nokia may not be seen for some time, but it is possible that litigation between two global giants may affect how patent law is addressed in the future.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, “Nokia and Apple File Competing Lawsuits Over Patents,” Tripp Mickle and Matthias Verbergt, Dec. 21, 2016