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Thursday's papers: Finland's "permanent" bread queues, return of Nokia - Apple patent battles, could Storm Barbara hit Finland?

Thursday's press in Finland report that some 20,000 people in Finland stand in bread queues every week, and the problem is growing. The Finnish communications firm Nokia Corp. and tech giant Apple have re-declared legal war in patent courts in Germany and the US this week. There's a storm brewing over the North Atlantic and it may be headed to Finland.

Heikki Hurstin itsenäisyyspäivän viettoa Helsingin Hakaniemessä.
People standing in line for a free lunch at Hakaniemi Market Square in Helsinki offered by Heikki Hursti's organisation on December 6, 2016, Finnish Independence Day. Image: Sasha Silvala / Yle

The day before many people across Finland will travel to friends and family for Christmas delicacies, Swedish-language paper Hufvudstadsbladet reports that an estimated 20,000 people in the country are forced to use bread queues or food banks in order to feed themselves and their families.

The executive director of Via Dia, an Evangelical Free Church group that aims to help people in need, Kristian Vilkman says the need is growing and the problem appears to be a permanent one.

"I'm surprised by how the number of clients has grown in some areas. The need has increased - you could say that social exclusion is to blame," Vilkman told the paper.

In the second of a two-page spread on people not having enough to eat, the paper interviewed Heikki Hursti, a Helsinki man who operates the city's most well-known food bank out of a former retail space in the Kallio district.

He said over the past decade the number of clients has grown by a factor of ten, saying that a decade ago his organisation served some 300 clients a week while today that figure is 3,000.

Hursti estimates that some 1,600 to 1,800 people on limited incomes will take advantage of a Christmas dinner to be served at the Messukeskus Helsinki, Expo and Convention Centre over the holiday weekend. His organisation is also donating some 400 Christmas gifts to the needy.

Nokia vs. Apple: Return of the patent battles

According to newspaper Iltalehti, the Finnish networking company - and previous leader in the global cell phone market - Nokia Corp. is suing the iPhone-making firm Apple for 32 patent infringements.

One day earlier Apple had filed a suit claiming that Nokia had breached agreements the companies reached in 2011.

Lawsuits concerning a total of 32 patents are being filed by Nokia in courts across Germany and in the US state of Texas, according to the paper.

Nokia claims that Apple had used patented tech in its displays, user interfaces, software, antennas, chipsets and video coding, Reuters reports.

In a statement, Nokia said that a patent agreement that the two tech giants agreed to in 2011 had not been renewed by Apple, despite subsequent licensing offers on a number of Nokia's patents.

Nokia's head of patent business, Ilkka Rahnasto, said Apple uses tech that belongs to Nokia.

"Through our sustained investment in research and development, Nokia has created or contributed to many of the fundamental technologies used in today's mobile devices, including Apple products. After several years of negotiations trying to reach agreement to cover Apple's use of these patents, we are now taking action to defend our rights," Rahnasto said.

International media - as well as tech industry hawks - have widely covered the news, with some characterising the lawsuits as Nokia's return to a war footing in the mobile phone game.

On Tuesday, one day before Nokia's lawsuit announcement, Apple filed a suit in California against Nokia, claiming that Nokia had excluded some patents from their 2011 agreement and had "extorted excessive royalties," according to the Wall Street Journal.

Online tech magazine Ars Technica's headline reads: "Smartphone patent wars redux: Nokia sues Apple, big time," with subheadline that reads: "Apple has accused Nokia of working with patent trolls to spawn lawsuits."

Still hard to forecast Christmas weather

Evening paper Iltalehti reports that due to the storm brewing over Europe - Storm Barbara - it's still not possible to say what the weather will be like over Christmas, which is less than two days away.

The paper's meteorologist also is unable to predict whether the storm, which is currently over the North Atlantic Sea headed straight towards the UK and Ireland, could hit Finland.

One thing that is likely, the paper writes, is that the weather in Finland will be unstable over the Christmas holiday, with snow possible in the south on Christmas Eve, but eventual snow accumulation will likely be gone by the next day when the precipitation turns to rain, the paper writes.

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