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Qualcomm sues Nokia over patent infringement

Qualcomm Inc. filed suit yesterday against Nokia Corp. in Texas and Wisconsin over five alleged patent infringements involving GSM technology, with less than a week to go before the two companies’ current cross-licensing agreement expires.
The Texas complaint cites three allegations of patent infringement involving the downloading of applications and other digital content over GPRS/EDGE networks. The Wisconsin complaint involves allegations of infringement on two patents relating to speech encoders, also known as vocoders, used in certain models of GSM mobile phones.
Qualcomm cited the Eastern District of Texas and the Western District of Wisconsin, where the suits were filed, as having “extensive experience” and a history of “speedy adjudication” in patent litigation cases.
Many observers of the legal skirmishing between the two companies consider the individual complaints by both parties to represent tactical maneuvers in their broader, strategic approach to the cross-licensing agreement, which expires on Monday at midnight. Qualcomm’s representatives have said as much, while Nokia has not confirmed or denied such a connection.
“This appears to be yet another example of serial litigation by Qualcomm and we plan to analyze the details of the complaints and actively defend ourselves to ensure our interests are fully protected,” said Bill Plummer, a spokesperson for Nokia in North America. “We believe these suits are also without merit and that Qualcomm is not entitled to an injunction.”
Just over a week ago, Nokia filed complaints in Germany and The Netherlands asking two courts to find certain Qualcomm patents “exhausted,” freeing Nokia from the obligation to pay Qualcomm royalties on certain mobile products sold in Europe.
Nokia spokesman Bill Plummer said then that the court filings “stand alone” and apart from ongoing negotiations over renewal of a cross-licensing agreement. In contrast, Lou Lupin, general counsel for Qualcomm, said that “in some sense, all the litigation (between the two companies) so far relates to the ongoing negotiations.”
The two companies have laid out a number of legal challenges to each other’s use of patented technologies, which are pending in various jurisdictions in the United States and internationally. Long-running and-so far-unfruitful negotiations over the cross-licensing agreement reflect the two companies’ differing views on the value of their respective patents. Qualcomm typically charges mobile-phone makers about 5 percent of a handset’s wholesale price to license the intellectual property represented in its chips, but Nokia has contended that that rate doesn’t reflect the contributions it has made to the technologies in question, particularly in W-CDMA, the 3G flavor of GSM.

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