Nokia insists that Qualcomm is using its patents

The patent license fight between Qualcomm Inc. and Nokia Corp. has gone into another round.

Just hours after Qualcomm refused to accept a $20 million payment from Nokia for royalties on patented Qualcomm technology, the Finnish mobile manufacturer on Friday rejected claims by the U.S. company that it does not use Nokia patents.

The two companies have locked horns over the renewal of Nokia's licensing contract to use Qualcomm patents, which expired Monday at midnight.

Nokia asserts that Qualcomm's contributions to current mobile standards have decreased and that Nokia, as a result, should pay less to license Qualcomm patents. As part of the negotiations, Nokia has relied on its own patent portfolio, arguing that Qualcomm has as much to lose as Nokia, if not more, if a new contract isn't signed, because Qualcomm would lose the rights to use Nokia's patents.

In a twist last week, Qualcomm made the assertion that it may not actually be using any Nokia patents. "It hasn't been an issue up until now but there's a serious question about whether in fact we use any of their patents," Qualcomm General Counsel Lou Lupin said at the time. "It's likely an issue that will be hard fought over the next months."

Nokia responded on Friday, asserting that Qualcomm is "the largest user of Nokia technology and patents." Nokia claims that Qualcomm is currently using over 100 of Nokia's GSM/WCDMA (Global System for Mobile Communications/Wideband Code Division Multiple Access) and CDMA2000 essential patents in its chipsets. The two companies have yet to agree on compensation for the use of these patents, according to Nokia.

"If Qualcomm's products comply with industry standards, it is in the same position as any other supplier of mobile technology in that it needs access to Nokia's patents covering standardized technologies such as mobile packet data and speech compression," Nokia said. "If Qualcomm intends to continue making industry compliant chipsets, then it will need access to Nokia's technology and patents."

Meanwhile, Qualcomm and Nokia continue to haggle over the expired licensing agreement.

Richard Tinkler, a spokesman for Qualcomm in Europe, said earlier this week that if Nokia continues to sell and ship products using Qualcomm patents after April 9, Qualcomm will consider that Nokia has elected to extend its current licensing agreement, and Nokia will have to make royalty payments at terms established within that agreement.

Nokia responded Friday that it has "a unilateral option, until end of 2008, to extend the applicability of the earlier agreement to also cover newer Qualcomm patents with the old royalty structure. This extension is for Nokia to choose if it wants."

It added: "The potential use of alleged essential patents does not constitute an extension of the agreement, or acceptance of the option. Nokia does not see the option as a viable alternative at this point in time."

The cross-license agreement discussions continue with the intention of reaching a mutually acceptable agreement in a timely manner, Nokia said.

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