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Cross-licensing negotiations between Qualcomm and Nokia have broken down to the point that arbitration might be necessary to get the parties together before their current agreement expires in April.

In an interview with Reuters, Qualcomm chief executive Paul Jacobs said the idea of bringing in an arbitrator had been discussed as "We aren't making much progress on the substantive issues."

Qualcomm makes much of its money from technology licensing; the ownership of key technologies used in CDMA networks has been important to the company, though as networks migrate to 3G and beyond that will be a less reliable revenue generator. While it does own some property in W-CDMA (3G GSM technology) it is not as significant as the virtual monopoly it has had with CDMA.

Frequently accused of manipulating standards to incorporate its technology, Qualcomm has spent an enormous amount on research and development to ensure ownership of intellectual property in a wide range of wireless standards.

The whole wireless business is a nightmare of cross-licensing and patent concerns, with each company firmly convinced their IP is worth more than anyone else’s, so the fact that this agreement has stalled is unsurprising. Escalation of the spat should prove interesting as it might mean we’ll get to see who is licensing what, though the amounts paid are generally confidential.®

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