Why Nokia is Backing Apple against Samsung

April 14, 2013 jasonsmith

Despite Apple emerging victorious in the most recent battle with Samsung, it didn’t leave with the prize: the judge did not grant Apple a much-desired injunction that would keep a good chunk of Samsung’s roster off the playing field. In a bizarre twist of events, Nokia filed an amicus brief on Apple’s behalf for the judge to reconsider. Nokia is doing this in order to support innovation and prevent companies from stealing each other’s ideas.

While that sounds like an extremely noble gesture, there are probably some other consequences on Nokia’s mind. What is the real reason Nokia chose to intervene?

1. Microsoft’s Invisible Hand

Microsoft invested a lot in Nokia. Nokia also put a lot of faith in the Windows platform. In essence, it could be Microsoft that is pulling Nokia’s strings to step in. This could be a plea for attention, so Samsung would move farther away from near-Android exclusivity and give the Windows Phone OS a whirl.

Despite Apple, Microsoft, and Nokia trying to pick a fight with tech giant Samsung, they may still not have enough firepower. If Apple wasn’t able to wound Samsung on its own, Nokia – a shell of its former self – will likely not contribute to the effort in a significant way.

2. Slow Samsung Down

Should Samsung products be banned in the U.S., Nokia will have the opportunity to step in with its own products and rob Samsung of some of its significant market share. Similarly, it also helps Windows Phone OS take market share away from Android.

This could also be an attempt to mess with Samsung’s profit margins by delaying sales and product launches in a major consumer market.

3. For Future’s Sake

Nokia could also be gazing into the future and laying foundations to set a precedent that may benefit them. In the filing, Keith Broyles, Nokia attorney from Alston & Bird wrote:

“Nokia has recently been involved in numerous U.S. patent lawsuits, as both a plaintiff and defendant. Nokia is thus both a significant patent owner that might seek an injunction to protect its patent rights, and a manufacturer in an industry in which patent owners routinely issue threats of injunctions for patent infringement.”

It seems that Nokia may be trying to use this ruling as an example when and if they seek injunctions in the future. Not to say they need the help; Nokia has been in a lot of patent lawsuits themselves, and they usually win. They actually previously won against Apple, and have successfully defended themselves as well.

Final Thoughts

Nokia’s intervention could be just enough to tip the scales in Apple’s favor; however, it might prompt another competitor to step up on Samsung’s behalf. This could also lead to the great debate of whether patents are here to protect, or stifle, innovation. Regardless, a lot has already happened – this is the first time a competitor has backed another competitor in this sector, which means we’re seeing history being made.

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