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Apple Tows Away Withings Sales after Escalation of the Patent Ruckus with Nokia

New Delhi, Mon, 26 Dec 2016 NI Wire

Amidst the much attention grabbing row with Nokia for patent rights transgression, Apple has withdrawn Nokia-owned Withings line of products from its retail stores - both online and offline, as per reports.

Withings is a French business house known for its connected health devices and was undertaken by Nokia as a subsidiary for about $192 million earlier this year. The iOS-compatible devices of Withings were carried for sale by Apple for more than two years and reflected a pleasing and lucrative alliance. The retail collaboration continued even after the company was absorbed into the new Digital Health unit of the Nokia Technologies, led by the ex-CEO of the French company, in May 2016.

Apple, now in an abrupt and drastic move, has done away with the option and mention of the Withings product line from apple.com database. Many popular health gadgets (except the terrific Activité Steel smartwatch) of the subsidiary company like the ‘Smart Body Analyser’, ‘Body Cardio Scale’ and ‘Wireless Blood Pressure Monitor’, which were listed on the online shop, no longer get indentified by the text autofill.

Similar retaliatory measure has been taken by Apple in the past following Bose Corps’ suit against Beats Electronics (an Apple unit), over contravention of the former’s noise cancelling patents in 2014, as well as, their dispute over NFL exclusivity contract. By the end of that year, however, the issue was resolved and the plaintiff audio manufacturing giant found its headphones and speakers back on Apple shelves.

It is to be noted that Nokia and Apple had settled a patent conflict over Smartphone technology in 2011, via a licensing agreement which authorised the former to receive a one-time payment along with periodic royalties from the latter. After about five years, on Wednesday the Finnish company filed a lawsuit in Germany and US alleging the iPhone makers of infringing 32 patent rights. The firm also accused that the American software major had declined many offers of licensing the other patented inventions of the former, which are infused in many Apple devices.

Once a dominant player in cellphone market, which lost to the Smartphone-shift trend, Nokia argued further that it already possess agreements for licensing its patents on the basis of reasonability and fairness, which is also referred to as FRAND (Fair, Reasonable And Non-Discriminatory).

The iPhone makers countersued the Finland-based firm and Patent Assertion Entities (PAEs) claiming that the parties have colluded to extort money from the Apple. The American multinational asserted that the Finnish manufacturers have indulged into an illegal scheme transferring patent rights with the PAEs on order to revive their cell phone business by scooping out revenues unfairly from Apple. The PAEs allegedly involved in the case are Acacia Research Corporation and Conversant Intellectual Property Management.

In response to this, Nokia assaulted back with fresh sets of legal proceedings initiated in United States, Europe and Asia against Apple Inc. for breach of patent rights. The company announced its move on Thursday this week, stating that there were now 40 lawsuits in total against Apple which spreads across 11 countries.

With Apple now taking the help of abandonment of the Nokia-owned Units’ products, it would be interesting to see how the events unfold in future. The corporate world as well the tech lovers have their eyes on this legal battle where two mighty players have locked horns to prove their supremacy in the technological territory.

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