Nokia Escalates Qualcomm Patent War

Nokia filed a counter-infringement lawsuit today against Qualcomm, adding yet another twist to the complicated legal maneuvering between the two companies. Nokia is seeking damages and injunctive relief.

The lawsuit accuses Qualcomm of infringing six patents in Nokia’s MediaFlo mobile TV and Brew mobile data portfolio. The lawsuit is in response to a Qualcomm lawsuit filed in April claiming that certain Nokia phones infringe on Qualcomm patents.

“This is another example where Qualcomm has effectively copied Nokia’s innovations,” Tero Ojanpera, Nokia’s CTO, said in a statement. “We believe that, for MediaFlo to evolve and for Brew to remain viable, Qualcomm needs access to these and many other patented Nokia inventions.”

In addition to the April litigation, the San Diego-based 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.

Nokia said Monday it remains confident that the Qualcomm patents are invalid based on the alleged inventions having been patented or published by other companies, including Nokia, before Qualcomm. In addition, Nokia said it believes its products do not infringe on any of the patents.

The Finnish-based Nokia, in turn, has 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.

The latest legal skirmish between the two companies comes after a cross-licensing deal expired on April 9. Nokia claims it doesn’t owe royalties to Qualcomm on sales of phones containing chipsets manufactured by Texas Instruments since Qualcomm has already collected royalties on the chipsets involved.

“What we’re challenging is whether or not this practice of double royalty is legal,” Nokia spokesman Bill Plummer told in March.

Qualcomm’s intellectual property is largely based in CDMA technology, while most of Nokia’s is in GSM. While Nokia plans to base its next generation of phones on WCDMA technology, its handsets will still contain some CDMA technology.

In April, Nokia sent Qualcomm a $20 million payment for estimated royalties, but Qualcomm rejected the offer as setting an arbitrary amount and announced that it has filed an arbitration demand with the American Arbitration Association (AAA).

Qualcomm is also engaged in an ongoing infringement battle with Irvine, Calif.-based Broadcom . In May, a Santa Ana, Calif., district court found Qualcomm guilty of willful infringement of three different Broadcom patents. The jury awarded Broadcom $19.6 million in damages, which may be trebled since the infringement was ruled intentional. Broadcom also plans to seek an injunction to bar future infringement by Qualcomm.

That lawsuit followed a December 2006 International Trade Commission (ITC) ruling found that Qualcomm’s cellular chips and software infringe on a Broadcom’s patents related to power-saving technology. The banned chips and chipsets are used in handheld wireless communications devices, including cellular telephone handsets that operate on EV-DO and WCDMA networks used by Verizon, Sprint, AT&T and T-Mobile USA.

Last week, the ITC banned the import of future models of 3G mobile broadband handsets containing Qualcomm chipsets and software. However, the ITC did not bar the importing of current handsets using the chips.

Qualcomm is seeking a White House veto of the ban. If President Bush refuses, the company plans to seek an immediate stay of the order through the courts.

Qualcomm did not respond to a request for comment.

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