Nokia has launched a legal war against HTC and BlackBerry. The Finnish folks behind the Nokia Lumia 900 and Lumia 800 have gone to court claiming Android and BlackBerry phones and tablets are infringing patents related to the app store, multi-tasking and assorted other gizmology.
Claims have been filed in the US and Germany that HTC, BlackBerry manufacturer Research in Motion, and budget tablet company ViewSonic have infringed a barrelful of Nokia patents.
Nokia argues it holds patents -- like copyright for inventions -- on some 45 phone and tablet technologies being used by the three companies. That's a whole heap of infringement, if true.
The patents at issue relate to -- deep breath -- dual-function antennas, multi-mode radios, power management, app stores, multi-tasking, navigation, conversational message display, dynamic menus, data encryption and retrieval of email attachments on a mobile device.
Nokia says it would prefer to avoid litigation. In these types of cases, which are increasingly common in today's mobile phone industry, the wronged party can call for a ban on products using the technology in question. Motorola has managed to get the Xbox 360 banned in Germany, while Apple and Samsung are locked in an international hair-pulling contest that's seen various products banned and unbanned and then banned again.
Blocking sale is a short-term threat, however. Nokia's real goal is to make HTC, BlackBerry and ViewSonic cough up a fee for each of the technologies it's named. And if Nokia can convince a court that its patents are being infringed, that may set a precedent for the Finns to go after further Android manufacturers. That's Apple's tactic in pursuing Samsung -- and HTC here in the British courts -- in order to wage "thermonuclear war" on Android as a whole.
Patents are the weapon of choice at the moment, but there are signs that the legal system has had enough of the squabbling. A top US judge recently warned Apple "I've had my fill of frivolous filings", while another US judge has ordered Apple and Samsung to meet to resolve their issues.
Is Nokia right to go after HTC, BlackBerry and ViewSonic? Are the patent wars out of control? Tell me your thoughts in the comments or on our Facebook page.