If you were to write TMA off as a one-dimensional shill, you’d be right 95% of the time. Then again, if technology companies made stuff people wanted, made stuff easy to use, and made their motives for why they did things clear to consumers, TMA wouldn’t have a blog. So what does it take to hit that 5%?
There’s a popular analogy in consumer technology that maintaining intellectual property (IP) is like maintaining a nuclear arsenal: sometimes having an impressive portfolio is enough to act as a deterrent. Then there’s the companies that like to whip their IP like some sort of gold-shitting donkey. These are usually companies whose days innovating have passed them by. Companies like Nokia.
In October, Nokia called Apple to the carpet over patents ranging from power management to the conversion of carbon dioxide to oxygen via photosynthesis. OK, I made one of those up. Those claims were filed with the ITC, an international organization that possesses the unique ability to actually stop devices from shipping to a country if a claim is found to have merit, which is why most idea-bankrupt companies choose to cry to them. In a typical IP piss-war countermove, Apple subsequently filed a suit against Nokia over 13 of its patents. Yesterday, the ITC dismissed the five Nokia claims. What does any self-respecting technology company do after tasting the humiliating sting of ITC’s backhand? File more claims, of course! This morning, Nokia filed another claim with the ITC claiming infringement on seven more of their patents. Apparently they found some patents under the area rug in the executive cafeteria that they forgot they had.
According to Paul Melin, Nokia’s VP of Intellectual Property “Our latest ITC filing means we now employ more lawyers than engineers have 46 Nokia patents in suit against Apple, many filed more than 10 years before Apple made its first iPhone.” He added “Nokia is a leading innovator in technologies needed to build great mobile products and Apple must stop building its products using Nokia’s proprietary innovation”, a line that, according to bystanders, was delivered deadpan. Investors should take note that regardless of the venue – consumer product market or courtroom – Nokia is absolutely fearless when faced with the prospect of thoroughly embarrassing itself. That’s gotta have some value.