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Could Apple Lose Right to Sell U.S. iPhones?

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By Jason Beahm on December 03, 2010 5:57 AM

It seems that nearly everyone has or has seen one of those newfangled smartphones. They seem to do everything and be everywhere. But you might not know that a legal war is brewing over the touch screen technology on smartphones.

Apple and Nokia are embroiled in a massive patent lawsuit over smartphone technology. The International Trade Commission is set to hear the issues in a case that will have major repercussions on the smartphone market. The conflict first landed in court in 2009 after Nokia filed a patent suit against Apple. Nokia alleged that Apple infringed on 10 Nokia patents when it created the iPhone. The iPhone has been a huge hit, with over 73 million units sold.

After Nokia filed suit, Apple countersued, contending that it was in fact Nokia that has violated the iPhones patents. Apple asserted that Nokia infringed upon 13 Apple patents, Reuters reports.

So what does all this mean? If Nokia wins the case, Apple could be stripped of the right to sell the iPhone in the U.S. Likewise, if Apple wins, Nokia could find itself locked out of the U.S. smartphone market.

Either of those scenarios would be devastating for the technology companies. Alternatively, another likely scenario would be the winning party selling licensing rights to the losing party, allowing them to continue making their phones but paying a licensing fee.

In light of the dispute, Apple has been calling for some legal reinforcements. The company recently added some major players to its legal team.

So your smartphone is safe for now, but as for the future -- it rests largely upon the result of this case.

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