Nokia has launched legal action against Apple in a US court, accusing the firm of infringing its patents in technology used in the iPhone. In a complaint filed with the Federal District Court in Delaware, Nokia – the world’s largest handset vendor –  accused Apple of violating ten of its patents which it said were “fundamental” to making devices compatible with the GSM, UMTS (3G WCDMA) and wireless LAN standards. 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, Nokia said in a statement. “By refusing to agree appropriate terms for Nokia’s intellectual property, Apple is attempting to get a free ride on the back of Nokia’s innovation,” said Ilkka Rahnasto, vice-president of Legal & Intellectual Property at Nokia.

Nokia claims to have “created one of the strongest and broadest patent portfolios in the industry,” investing more than EUR40 billion in R&D during the last two decades. Much of its technology is deemed essential to industry standards. “The basic principle in the mobile industry is that those companies who contribute in technology development to establish standards create intellectual property, which others then need to compensate for,” added Rahnasto. Nokia claims to have licensing deals in place with approximately 40 companies, including virtually all the leading mobile device vendors. No indication was given to the size of the claim. However, with over 30 million iPhones sold to date, a successful outcome for Nokia in its legal action could see Apple paying out hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation.