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Apple in legal showdown to block Android

Legal wrangling is a sport that Apple excels at, with attorneys who are now going to throw down for Steve Jobs over patents in what looks to be an effort to protect the iPhone from the continuing onslaught of Android phones.

Bloomberg Businessweek reported today that Apple's latest legal salvo comes against no less than the world's largest mobile-phone maker, Nokia Oyj. The two will go at it before the International Trade Commission, an "independent, quasijudicial federal agency" that has amongst its "broad investigative responsibilities on matters of trade" the power to adjudicate "cases involving imports that allegedly infringe intellectual property rights."

At stake: Apple's right to import the iPhone, which is manufactured abroad, and at the same time block the import of its main competitors, including phones powered by Google's Android operating system.

Both Apple and Nokia are arguing over intellectual property violations.

Apple is also taking on other heavy hitters over patents: Motorola Inc. and HTC Corp., two companies that have smart phones equipped with Android.

In October, Apple sued Motorola over 9 phones it claimed used its multitouch technology without its permission. In the past year or so, Nokia has also taken Apple to court over several of its popular products, including the iPad.

Bloomberg gives a little context for how the long arm of the law has often had Apple in its grasp: 

Apple has been the most-sued technology company since 2008, the year after the iPhone was introduced, topping Microsoft Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co. and Dell Inc., according to LegalMetric Inc., a compiler of litigation data based in St. Louis.

While lawsuits are nothing new for Apple, the company does seem to be feeling the heat from Android, which catapulted to a quarter of the world's market share of smart phone operating systems vs. the Apple iOS mobile operating system's 16.7 percent share, down from 17.1 percent last year, according to a Gartner Research report released earlier this month.