RealTime IT News

Nokia Accuses Qualcomm of 'Serial Litigation'

Qualcomm  announced that it has filed suit against handset maker Nokia  yesterday, as the two companies continue to spar over their respective intellectual property rights.

The most recent lawsuits, filed in the Eastern District of Texas and the Western District of Wisconsin respectively, allege that certain Nokia phones infringe on Qualcomm patents.

Qualcomm's complaint filed in the Texas court alleges Nokia infringes on its GPRS  and EDGE  data transmission services; the Wisconsin filing takes issue with the way Nokia uses speech encoders some of its GSM-based cellular phones.

Qualcomm said that it filed its complaints in those two jurisdictions because they are "noted for their extensive experience with patent litigation and their speedy adjudication of such cases." Qualcomm is seeking injunctive relief against future sales and damages related to phones already sold.

Nokia spokesman Bill Plummer said that while the handset maker has not fully analyzed the details contained in the complaints, the lawsuits "have no merit."

"This is yet another example of this tactic of serial litigation being employed by Qualcomm and which they've been employing for 17 months with no success," he told internetnews.com.

Qualcomm did not return a call requesting a response to this statement.

Plummer also complained that Qualcomm is resorting to litigation despite having committed itself to negotiating license agreements on fair and reasonable terms.

Qualcomm has previously filed two other patent infringement lawsuits against Nokia's GSM/GPRS/EDGE cellular phones in the United States, and has similar cases pending in the U.K., France, Germany, Italy and China.

Qualcomm said in a statement that its litigation is "part of a worldwide effort to prevent Nokia from using the company's valuable patented innovations without paying royalties."

This lawsuit comes two weeks after Nokia filed its own series of lawsuits in Europe, claiming that Qualcomm is trying to collect royalties on intellectual property to which it isn't entitled.

EDGE and GPRS are data transmission services associated with the GSM wireless standard that is dominant throughout most of the world, although not the United States.

Both Nokia and Qualcomm own intellectual property used in that standard and are in the process of negotiating the renewal of cross-licensing agreements set to expire April 9, 2007.

Plummer said that both companies have a shared interest in achieving a reasonable cross-licensing arrangement and that "Nokia is committed to negotiating in good faith on reaching an arrangement on a timely basis."

These negotiations seem to have stumbled over how much credit each company is entitled to for their respective contributions to technology, which is complicated by the evolution of that technology.

Current Analysis analyst Avi Greengart explained that Qualcomm has a very rich patent portfolio in second-generation (2G) technology, while Nokia has more intellectual property (IP) in evolving third-generation (3G) technology.

According to Plummer, Nokia has "significantly more" IP than Qualcomm in newer cell phone technology and that Qualcomm's share of the cross-licensing fees should be proportionally reduced.

For its part, Qualcomm noted that "we have negotiated many license agreement extensions historically without materially altering the financial terms of those license agreements and we do not anticipate that any agreement extension or new agreement with Nokia would negatively impact our licensing program."

Greengart said that Qualcomm's position is that its IP formed the basis for the new technology and that it should be compensated accordingly.

Given what seems like intransigence on either side, Greengart noted at the time that Nokia brought its actions, "it's probably not going to be resolved until regulators step in."