In October 2009, Nokia sued Apple, claiming that the company was violating a spate of patents regarding wireless radio technology and power management technology. In a press release, Nokia said, "The patents cover wireless data, speech coding, security and encryption and are infringed by all Apple iPhone models shipped since the iPhone was introduced in 2007."
Apple didn't take the lawsuit sitting down. It responded with one of its own in December 2009. Apple's own complaint points out that Nokia has publicly admitted that it will copy good ideas. "Other companies must compete with us by inventing their own technologies, not just by stealing ours," said Bruce Sewell, Apple's General Counsel and senior vice president. Apple went on to say that Nokia is simply trying to make up for lost dollars in the competitive smartphone market.
Since then, Nokia has filed a petition to block Apple from importing its products into the European Union, and Apple has filed a petition to block Nokia from importing its handsets into the U.S. Yeah, ugly.
Since Apple has made pretty much the same request of the ITC, it will be interesting to sit back and watch this one play out. Will the ITC investigate both at the same time? Will it investigate Apple first, to completion, before beginning an investigation into Nokia's alleged infringements? How long will this mess take to sort out?
All unknowns at this point. I think the only thing we can say with certainty is that this isn't going to be over quickly. You can bet both companies will prep armies of lawyers to defend their profits.