Qualcomm sues Nokia in patent spat

Alleges GSM, GPRS, EDGE intellectual property infringement

Qualcomm today accused Nokia of patent infringement after filing a complaint against the Finnish phone giant in the San Diego US District Court on Friday.

The allegation comes a week after Nokia and five other mobile phone, network and chip companies formally complained to the European Commission about Qualcomm's approach to 3G technology licensing.

Friday's complaint was filed by Qualcomm and a subsidiary company, SnapTrack. Together they allege Nokia has used without permission methods outlined in 12 patents, 11 held by Qualcomm, the other by its off-shoot.

Six of the patents are the basis for similar allegations made by Qualcomm against Broadcom in July 2005. Perhaps not co-incidentally, Broadcom is one of the six firms behind the EC complaint.

Qualcomm said its patents, in part, cover technology that is "essential for the manufacture or use of equipment that complies with the GSM, GPRS and EDGE cellular standards". The company said it was pursuing an injunction to ban the sale of allegedly infringing Nokia products in the US. It's also after unspecified monetary damages.

Qualcomm said it had been in negotiations with Nokia to discuss the alleged infringement, but the pair had been unable to reach a satisfactory, amicable resolution for both parties. Litigation, it said, was the only way to resolve the issues it has with Nokia.

Nokia and Broadcom, along with Panasonic, NEC, Ericsson and Texas Instruments, allege that Qualcomm's WCDMA technology licensing policy runs contrary to European anti-trust regulations. They maintain that the US firm does not license its patented techniques on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms, as it promised 3G standards-setting bodies it would. They also claim it uses pricing discounts to encourage customers to buy its chips on an exclusive basis and so "to exclude competing manufacturers of chipsets for mobile phones from the market and preventing others from entering".

Qualcomm has said all the six's allegations are unfounded and without merit. ®

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