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EU denies fixing mobile phone market in Europe's favour

The expected counterblast has been issued. Now, who apart from Qualcomm is complaining?

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An EU spokesman has denied US claims that it was attempting to exclude US mobile phone companies from Europe in defining third generation cellular standards. Earlier this week US trade representative Charlene Barshefsky said the European process was aimed at shutting US companies out (see US vs Europe wireless trade war looms). Barshefsky's aim seemed nothing less than the dismantling of the entire European wireless development process, and its replacement by a far looser and 'more competitive' international one, via the ITU and other bodies. But from what Jochen Kubosch was telling reporters yesterday, this isn't going to happen. The EU standard defined by ETSI, UMTS, is a candidate for consideration as a global standard. Kubosch points out that several US companies support ETSI, and that Europe's standards are not intended to be exclusionary. The most obvious US company to feel itself excluded (although Lucent has rattled some sabres) is Qualcomm, which says its technology won't work with UMTS, and which is withholding what it says are eight key patents needed for UMTS to go into service. These patents will be the subject of a veritable firestorm as third generation development continues. Yesterday Qualcomm reportedly claimed that Ericsson had to all intents and purposes abandoned a lawsuit against it over five of them, withdrawing claims under three patents and admitting the invalidity of two others. The actual truth of this isn't currently entirely clear, as Ericsson has yet to comment. Qualcomm is however on the receiving end of other actions from major manufacturers, including Motorola, and is by no means home free with its 'key patents.' ® Click for more stories

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