Helferich Patent Licensing vs. Nokia Corp. filed as Smart Phone Copyright Wars come to Chicago

Helferich has filed a patent lawsuit against Nokia, saying the company is violating its patent protection in Illinois, Reuters News reported.

Intellectual property attorneys in Chicago have watched as the copyright wars have heated up among smartphone companies. Many companies are snapping up patents by the thousands in order to avoid litigation or the need for dispute resolution.

Helferich Patent Licensing vs. Nokia Corp. contends 27 other companies, including Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc., have honored Helferich's patents or obtained licenses. The company is seeking an injunction against Nokia that would prohibit the company for making or selling products using technology for which Helferich owns the patents.

Apple, Microsoft and other tech companies have spent billions snapping up thousands of available patents in recent years -- to avoid such litigation. CNN Money reports Apple recently shelled out $4.5 billion for 6,000 patents owned by Nortel.

-Research in Motion and Ericsson partnered to put up $1.1 billion.

-Microsoft and Sony spent another $1 billion.

Google apparently played number games at a recent auction, bidding 1.902160540 (Brun's constant) and 3.14159 (pi). The company was apparently having a little fun. Yet its Android partners -- including HTC, Motorola and Samsung -- continue to be under fire by companies claiming copyright infringement.

When it comes to patent protection, tech giants have been in a buying frenzy. Google bought 282 patents last year. Apple bought 563. Microsoft led the way with 3,121. Industry watchers say Google has not yet placed the emphasis on protecting itself through patent purchases; Microsoft made a similar mistake in its infancy.

"There are a lot of phenomenal portfolios for sale," Dean Becker, a patent broker, told Bloomberg News. "Every operating company is in the market because of the expense, distraction and the potential financial risk of patent litigation."

Winning the bidding for Nortel's portfolio would have increased Google's patent holdings ninefold; currently the company has about 700 patents, according to the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.

Google is facing lawsuits from Oracle Corp. Meanwhile, Apple is demanding licensing revenue from makers of products that run Google's Android operating system. In some cases, a Google executive said, lawsuits have involved low-quality software patents. By purchasing and maintaining large war chests of patents, companies hope to discourage such lawsuits.

"One of a company's best defenses against this kind of litigation is (ironically) to have a formidable patent portfolio," said Google's General Counsel Kent Walker.

Helferich Patent Licensing is a Chicago company that holds, manages and licenses patented technology involving multimedia delivery.

Jeremy A. Gibson & Associates represents clients in trademark infringement and business litigation in Chicago and elsewhere in Illinois. Call 877-452-4529 for a free consultation.


Additional Resources
Apple takes patent wars seriously. Google no so much, CNN Money, by Philip Elmer-DeWitt

Google Left Searching for New Patent Assets After Nortel Loss, by Susan Decker, Bloomberg News.