A high tide of lawsuits between high-tech giants

Microsoft may have finally ended a 10-year “browser war” with Europe on Wednesday, but the technology sector still features a number of titans battling it out for market domination, marking 2009 out as a bruising year in the courts.


It’s that time of year when consumers get set to slip the latest gizmo under the Christmas tree. But for the producers and the marketers of some of the gadgets, the last days of 2009 have proved to be a lawsuit wonderland.

Over the past year, some of the world’s most high-profile high-tech giants have been embroiled in legal disputes ranging from patent infringements, antitrust lawsuits and anti-competitive cases. These include the giants of the business – such as Microsoft, Apple, Nokia and Intel – and the legal disputes involve sums of millions - or even billions - of dollars.

Microsoft vs. Europe: Come together, the browser war is over

IE7 logo

After a decade-long legal squabble, the European Commission and Microsoft finally reached a deal on Wednesday on the distribution of Internet Explorer in Europe. The US software giant has agreed to give consumers the final choice between all the available web browsers. Until now, the company’s Internet Explorer was the default browser running on Microsoft’s Windows operating system. But to reach this happy ending, the European Commission had to fine Microsoft 1.6 billion euros over 10 years, making Microsoft the first company in 50 years of EU competition policy to be sanctioned for its failure to comply with an earlier antitrust judgment in 2004.

Intel takes on FTC, AMD, Europe: It’s Intel bashing time

The world’s leading computer chipmaker is having a hard time. The FTC (Federal Trade Commission), one of two US agencies enforcing antitrust law, decided on Wednesday to file

a complaint against Intel for illegally using its market dominance to stifle competition. A month earlier, Intel had agreed to pay its archrival AMD 1.25 billion dollars to settle all their disputes across the world. Intel has also had to deal with Europe. EU antitrust regulators fined Intel 1.06 billion euros (1.45 billion dollars) in May.

Nokia vs. Apple: An eye for a smartphone…

The world’s top mobile phone maker filed a lawsuit in October against Apple for patent infringement. Nokia claims the iPhone-maker failed to pay the license fee for 11 patents including techonologies such as wireless communication, 3G (mobile high-speed communication) and communication protocols. In short, everything that makes the iPhone the iPhone. The Finnish company could stand to gain millions of dollars in damages… if the case is not resolved by an out-of-court settlement.

Apple vs Nokia: … and a smartphone for an eye

Who is the bad guy now? In response to the complaint filed by Nokia, Apple countersued Nokia on Dec. 11. According to the Cupertino giant, the Finnish mobile phone-maker

infringed Apple’s patents! Apple has listed 13 in total and claims Nokia is just trying to make its own iPhone by copying the navigation possibilities of the hugely popular Apple smartphone.

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