Apple has started legal proceedings against Nokia in the UK, turning the ongoing dispute between the two companies into a transatlantic affair.
Reuters reports that Apple is citing the same patents it's already accused Nokia of infringing in the USA, related to touch-screen and interface techniques.
Nokia, meanwhile, has complained that Apple is infringing its patents on radio, interfacing, camera use, antenna design and just about everything else, with both companies seeking the involvement of the International Trade Commission (ITC) in the hope of getting some action before the 2012 court date.
That's for the Delaware hearing, though the UK action isn't expected to progress much faster. Some time next year the ITC will decide if either company has a case to answer, and could ban US imports of infringing devices, which would be critical for ether company, though more damaging for Apple given Nokia's limited US presence.
The ITC are already regular visitors to Cupertino, given that it has still to rule on infringing accusations from HTC and Elan Microelectronics, either of which could see the iPhone banned from US stores in theory.
The reality is that these companies compare patent stacks, with the owner of the smaller stack handing over some money to the owner of the larger stack. Court hearings and threatening noises are just a preamble to that, ideally getting a few of the opposition's patents thrown out to reduce their stack before getting down to business.
Adding a UK action isn't surprising: everyone loves to visit London on occasion, though they'll no doubt be hoping the hearing can be postponed until the summer months when the capital is looking its best. ®