Nokia Sues Apple (Again), This Time Over iPad

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Last year Nokia sued Apple over violating its patent on wireless technology on the iPhone. Apple counter-sued, claiming Nokia had stolen 13 patents from the company. Now Nokia's back on the counter-counter-offensive, suing Apple for stealing proprietary technologies for the iPad, and Apple's stock has taken an early 5% hit in trading.

Who knows why. Apple and Nokia likely won't be in court for the next two years for the iPhone suit. And Apple's already hedged itself, so to speak, with outstanding suits against Google and HTC for violating the iPhone's touch-screen technology (touch-screen tech is not a factor in the Nokia-Apple wars). To review, the world's largest cell phone maker is suing the world's largest smart-phone marker who's counter-suing and also suing the world's faster growing smart-phone operating system designer. The future is mobile, and litigious.

These suits are often a combination of frivolousness and earnest attempts to defend inventions. One reason we have patent law is to reward creativity and innovation. We diminish the incentive to build the next great touchscreen technology or space-saving wireless feature if innovators expect that their new idea will simply be swiped by their competitor a few months after his product hit stores.

That said, this could also simply be a defensive posture on Nokia's part. The largest maker of cell phones is also losing mightily to Google and Apple in the high-end smart-phone market where the industry is trending.

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Derek Thompson is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he writes about economics, labor markets, and the entertainment business.

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