Nokia, the world’s top cell phone maker, has filed a patent counter-suit against Qualcomm Inc in a Texas court, seeking damages and an injunction against the U.S. chip maker.
Nokia, which makes more than one in three of the cell phones sold globally, said on Monday it had filed a suit accusing Qualcomm of infringing six implementation patents in its MediaFLO mobile TV and Brew mobile data technologies.
Qualcomm said it was disappointed, but not surprised, by the Nokia action, which it called “standard-issue tactics” in legal disputes such as the larger licensing battle between them.
A legal brawl between the two firms has continued since part of a cross-licensing deal over technology patents expired on April 9, and their increasingly bitter fight is worrying investors and the industry on both sides of the Atlantic.
“We see Qualcomm has copied our technology without compensating us, so we need to enforce our technologies and patents we have,” Tero Ojanpera, chief technology officer at Finnish-based Nokia, told Reuters.
Ojanpera said Nokia had a long history of innovation in the fields of IP broadcast television and mobile downloads, and the U.S. firm needs its patents for the broadcast quality of MediaFLO or to download programs in Brew.
“We feel we have a strong case in both areas,” Ojanpera said.
Andrew Gilbert, president of Qualcomm Europe, said the U.S.-based firm was not surprised by Nokia’s action, given the context of the larger licensing dispute.
“It’s not unusual when you have this kind of litigation that people use counter-claims as a way of trying to work through the process, so it’s not a surprise to us,” Gilbert told Reuters.
He said Qualcomm would look into Nokia’s claim and “respond accordingly.”
PART OF MAJOR ROW
Qualcomm has filed 11 patent suits against Nokia in less than two years, seeking damages and injunctions, so far without success. Last month Nokia filed its first counter-suit against Qualcomm, in Wisconsin, related to chipset technologies.
The legal dispute centers on Nokia’s use of Qualcomm patents for high-speed 3G wireless technology, but also has a bearing on Qualcomm’s chips business, which Nokia says uses many Nokia- patented technologies.
“We will continue to negotiate in good faith and want to resolve this as fast as possible. I think it is in everybody’s interest to resolve this,” Ojanpera said.
Analysts estimate Nokia has paid Qualcomm about $500 million per year and wants to reduce this cost. Nokia says its patent portfolio is much stronger now than 15 years ago, when the original cross-licensing deal was signed.
Industry players and analysts alike expect any licensing agreement between the two to have a major impact on the future of 3G technologies.
“This is really about setting the industry rules,” Ojanpera said.
Nokia also commented on a lawsuit filed by Qualcomm in Texas on April 2, saying it was confident its products did not infringe any of three Qualcomm patents and that the patents were invalid.
“Nokia is confident that the Qualcomm patents are invalid, for example, based on the alleged inventions having been patented or published by other companies, including Nokia, before Qualcomm,” it said in a statement.
Qualcomm has also been fighting over patents with rival Broadcom Corp..
The U.S. International Trade Commission ruled last week against Qualcomm in that dispute, banning imports of new advanced phones using chips the ITC said infringed on Broadcom patents.
Gilbert said Qualcomm hoped to overturn the judgment and was disappointed in the ruling, which he said would affect operators, consumers and handset-makers.
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