Amid the escalating patents row with Finnish smartphone maker Nokia, Apple has reportedly pulled all products made by Withings — a French company and now a Nokia subsidiary — from Apple Stores, be it online or retail.
Several Withings iOS-compatible products — mostly health-related connected accessories — have been available at Apple Stores for nearly two years as part of a retail alliance, AppleInsider reported on Saturday.
The Withings product sales continued even after the company was acquired by Nokia in April for nearly $190 million. The Withings brand was integrated into Nokia’s Digital Health unit.
“Now, the devices made by the Nokia subsidiary are no longer listed on Apple’s website. Previously, Apple carried a wide range of iOS-compatible Withings devices in its retail stores, including the ‘Body Cardio Scale’ and ‘Wireless Blood Pressure Monitor,’” the report added.
Five years after Apple and Nokia settled a lawsuit, the tech giants have again locked horns over patents with Apple filing an anti-trust lawsuit against third-party companies Patent Assertion Entities (PAEs) that act on Nokia’s behalf, and the Finland-based firm suing Apple directly earlier this week.
Nokia filed a suit in Europe and the US, claiming Apple is still infringing on Nokia patents.
The lawsuit covers 32 patents, including display, user interface, software and video-coding technology.
Nokia said that since settling the initial case, Apple has “declined subsequent offers made by Nokia to license other [parts] of its patented inventions, which are used by many Apple products.”
In its lawsuit, Apple argued that Nokia already has agreements to license its patents for fair and reasonable terms, also know as “FRAND” (Fair, Reasonable, and Non-Discriminatory).
“But Nokia is transferring these patents to PAEs in order to aggressively pursue money,” Apple argued.
According to the Cupertino-based tech giant, Nokia has been conspiring with PAEs patent assertion entities (Acacia Research and Conversant Property Management) in an “illegal patent transfer scheme” to wring money out of Apple because Nokia’s cell phone business is failing.
According to the AppleInsider report, Apple has now “expunged all mention of Withings and its product line from the Apple.com online retail database”.
“Whether or not the recent Withings removal is related to Nokia’s shady legal dealings has yet to be confirmed, but Apple has in the past used its retail might as a retaliatory weapon,” the report added.
In 2011, the two companies settled a patent fight over smartphone technology through a licensing agreement that committed Apple to make a one-time payment to the company and to pay regular royalties in the future, media reported.
The companies also agreed to withdraw complaints against each other with the International Trade Commission over the use of intellectual property.