Analyst: Nokia's Lawsuit May Be Preemptive Strike

Nokia filed a lawsuit against Apple alleging that the iPhone infringes on several of its patents, and UBS analyst Maynard Um thinks it may have been in anticipation of Apple crying foul over technology included in upcoming Nokia handsets.

"We believe Nokia's suit could be a pre-emptive move ahead of its new handsets launching soon that may have multi-touch capabilities for which Apple has IP," Mr. Um said.

According to Nokia, Apple has been "free riding" because it isn't paying royalties on GSM, UTMS and WLAN technologies used in the iPhone. As such, Apple can charge less for the iPhone and unfairly gain market share.

Since Apple works with third-party manufacturers to build the iPhone, the courts will likely take a look at whether or not those companies have properly licensed the intellectual property they use, and whether or not Apple is liable for licensing payments, too.

Nokia's focus on Apple may, however, be related to more than whether or not the iPhone maker is infringing on its patents. Instead, it may be related to new handsets Nokia has in the works that use multi-touch technology that's protected by patents Apple owns.

"We would not be surprised if Apple eventually files an infringement suit if Nokia'shandsets are deemed to infringe its IP," Mr. Um said. "Ultimately, we believe an out of courtsettlement is the most likely scenario with potential cross licensing agreements."

In other words, Nokia may have filed its suit as a bargaining chip.

Considering Apple isn't likely to license it's patented technology to competitors, filing a suit to bargain with might be the only way Nokia could manage pressure Apple into a deal.

Despite Nokia's announced lawsuit, investors don't seem overly concerned about the iPhone maker. Apple's stock is currently sitting at US$205.50 in after-hours trading, up 0.30 (0.15%).

Mr. Um doesn't seem worried, either. He is maintaining his "Buy" rating and $280 target price for Apple's stock.