Nokia has slapped a writ on Apple over the iPhone. The Finnish mobile phone giant has accused Apple of infringing 10 patents. Nokia's complaint, which was filed in US District Court in Delaware, is not the first time that Apple has found itself in court over the iPhone, but this is the biggest company to chase over patent infringement.

The patents have been used by the iPhone since it was introduced in June 2007, Nokia said, and relate to several technologies "fundamental to making devices which are compatible with one or more of the GSM, UMTS (3G WCDMA) and wireless LAN standards." According to Nokia, the patents cover wireless data, speed encoding and decoding, security and encryption.

Nokia, the world's largest mobile handset maker by a wide margin, said it has invested about [euro]40 billion, in research and development over the last 20 years to acquire its patents. Approximately 40 companies, including "virtually all the leading mobile device vendors," have licensed those patents, Nokia added, but Apple has not played ball.

"The basic principle in the mobile industry is that those companies who contribute in technology development to establish standards create intellectual property, which others then need to compensate for," said Ilkka Rahnasto, Nokia's vice president of legal and intellectual property, in a statement today. "Apple is also expected to follow this principle. By refusing to agree [to] appropriate terms for Nokia's intellectual property, Apple is attempting to get a free ride on the back of Nokia's innovation."

Apple did not respond to a call for comment on the lawsuit.

This is not the first time that Apple has been hit with a patent infringement lawsuit over the iPhone. In November 2008, for example, EMG Technologies claimed that the iPhone infringed a patent that describes how to navigate the Internet on a mobile phone. In April, Taiwan-based Elan Microelectronics accused Apple of infringing two of its patents in the iPhone's multitouch technology .

Nokia declined to comment further on the lawsuit.