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Qualcomm sues Nokia in UK court

The next battle begins

Qualcomm took its battle with Nokia one step further yesterday, filing another patent-infringement lawsuit against the Finnish mobile phone maker, this time in the UK.

It's the latest barb in a long-running dispute that has at its core the ability for the two companies to boost their respective revenues in the future.

The most recent lawsuit, filed in the Patents Court of the High Court of England and Wales, charges Nokia with infringing two Qualcomm patents in GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) and Edge (Enhanced Data Rates for GSM Evolution) phones.

Qualcomm is seeking an injunction against Nokia and damages for phones already sold. The suit is an extension of legal action Qualcomm brought against Nokia in the US late last year.

In response to the UK activity, Nokia said that it hadn't seen the filing but doesn't believe that Qualcomm is entitled to an injunction.

Industry observers were surprised to see the original suit filed in the US because Qualcomm is known for staunchly defending its CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) patents and not for its involvement with GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) technologies. At the time, Qualcomm said GSM developers had evolved their products to the extent that they now infringe on Qualcomm patents.

The lawsuits follow other incidents indicating that the relationship between the companies is growing increasingly tense. In April, Qualcomm said the companies were struggling to renegotiate a licensing agreement, set to expire in 2007, that allows Nokia to use Qualcomm's CDMA technology and Qualcomm to use some Nokia patents for chipsets.

Late last year, Nokia and several other mobile telecommunications companies filed complaints to the European Union, charging Qualcomm with acting in an anticompetitive manner by overcharging for patents that are part of the 3G (third-generation) standard.

Analysts see the jousting between the companies as an attempt by each to improve their licensing terms for the future. Qualcomm contributes less technology to the 3G standards than it did for CDMA so it may be working to ensure improved royalties as mobile networks convert to 3G. Nokia may be resisting Qualcomm's attempts to ensure higher royalties in an effort to keep down its manufacturing costs.

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