Apple is squaring off against Nokia in a case before the International Trade Commission this week with both sides charging that the other is committing intellectual property violations. The showdown is a precursor to other suits that Apple has coming up against Motorola and HTC. Nokia charges that the iPhone violates Nokia copyrights, Apple says it's the Nokia phones that are violating Apple's patents. Apple may try to block Nokia's Symbian phones from being sold in the US. Apple says Nokia just wants access to iPhone schematics so it can build knock-offs, a charge Nokia denies. The Motorola and HTC cases are similar. The upshot: everyone's trying to make it harder for you to get the other guy's phone.

"These are very well-known, deep-pocketed, high-end manufacturers," said Lyle Vander Schaaf, an attorney at Brinks Hofer Gilson & Lione in Washington, who handles cases before the commission. "Usually you have one 800-pound gorilla going after a new entrant. Here you've got 800-pound gorillas fighting each other."

Follow John Moe at @johnmoe