Nokia’s October 22 suit accusing Apple of infringing ten patents in the design of the iPhone is considered a major piece of litigation for the Finnish phonemaker (see, for example, the Law Blog’s excellent analysis of what’s at stake). So we figured Nokia would be using Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Oliver & Hedges, the firm that guided its death match litigation against Qualcomm, which ended last year in a 15-year tech-sharing agreement.

But we got a bit of a surprise when we checked the Delaware federal district court docket. No Quinn Emanuel. Nokia is instead represented by Patrick Flinn and John Haynes of Alston & Bird, as well as Delaware counsel from Morris, Nichols, Arsht & Tunnell.

“What gives?” we asked our computer screen.
“What gives?” we asked the voicemail of Flinn and Haynes.
“What gives?” we asked in e-mail messages to Quinn and Ron Antush, Nokia’s head of IP litigation.

We wish we could say we got an answer from any of them, but, alas, we did not. So we did a little sleuthing and came up with these clues. Alston & Bird, we discovered, has done a fair amount of IP work for Nokia, including in a supporting role in the Qualcomm litigation, where Alston litigators represented Nokia at the International Trade Commission. Alston & Bird has also been counsel to Nokia in other ITC investigations, as well as in several patent disputes in the Eastern District of Texas.

And Quinn Emanuel, we remembered, has a relationship with Apple: The firm represented Apple’s board of directors in litigation arising from the company’s stock option granting policies.

Was there a conflict issue for Quinn in suing Apple for Nokia? Did Alston & Bird wow Nokia the last time around? When we know, we will let you know.