Apple vs. Nokia: The legal battlelines

December 27, 2010, 3:13 PM UTC

A simple patent dispute has escalated into a legal contest of Dickensian complexity

Click to enlarge. Source: FOSS Patents

In Oct. 2009, when Nokia (NOK) first complained in a U.S. federal court that Apple (AAPL) had infringed on 10 of its telecommunications patents, the case could be summarized in a fairly simple chart like the one at right created by FOSS Patents‘ Florian Mueller.

Fourteen months later, that relatively straightforward patent dispute has escalated through suits and countersuits into a legal battle of Dickensian complexity now being fought in seven different venues, from Delaware to Dusseldorf.

Mueller, who tackled the Android vs. iOS patent battleground three weeks ago, has scoured thousands of pages of legal documents and posted what is likely to be the definitive map of Nokia vs. Apple. The finished document covers 19 “moves,” 11 reference pages, 31 PDF slides and more than 75 individual patents.

Look below the fold to see Mueller’s representation of the nightmare that Oct. 2009 suit has grown into.

Click to enlarge. Source: FOSS Patents

Aren’t you glad you’re not a patent attorney?

Mueller’s Apple vs. Nokia diagrams are available here. Click here for his full collection of smartphone patent visualizations.

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[Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter @philiped]