HELSINKI (Reuters) - A key court case in a long-winding patent dispute between the world’s top cell-phone maker Nokia NOK1V.HE and U.S. technology company Qualcomm (QCOM.O) starts in a Delaware court on Wednesday.
Nokia filed the case in August 2006, saying Qualcomm had breached its contract to license patents essential to key mobile technology standards on fair and reasonable terms.
The case is consolidated with Qualcomm’s April 2007 arbitration filing, where the U.S. company asked to rule that Nokia’s use of its patents after April 9, 2007, would mean Nokia extended the key cross-license agreement at old royalty rates.
In February 2008 the two companies agree to hold fire in patent cases until first rulings from Delaware.
In April 1992 the two companies signed a licensing agreement, which gave Nokia access to Qualcomm’s CDMA patents. The contract was then extended in 2001 to also cover the network equipment.
In 15 years of the deal, Nokia says it paid $1 billion for Qualcomm’s “early patents” and has now fully paid, royalty-free license to those.
Nokia, Ericsson (ERICb.ST), Broadcom (BRCM.O), NEC, Panasonic and Texas Instruments TXN.N filed in October 2005, complaints with the European Commission alleging anti-competitive conduct by Qualcomm, including high royalty rates. In October 2007, the EU opened antitrust proceedings in the case. In May 2008 a top Commission official told Reuters the case was “ongoing and active.”
QUALCOMM‘S 11 GSM PATENT CASES, FIRST FAILED
Between November 2005 and April 2007 Qualcomm filed 11 cases on three continents against Nokia, saying the Finnish company was infringing on its essential patents in GSM technology.
In February 2008 the U.S. International Trade Commission decided Nokia had not infringed on Qualcomm’s patents. Qualcomm has appealed the decision and the case continues in August.
In March 2008 the British High Court ruled Qualcomm’s two patents were invalid.
Similar cases are on hold, or asked to be put on hold, in the United States, China, Germany, Italy and France.
In March 2007 Nokia filed complaints against Qualcomm patents in Germany and the Netherlands. Both courts dropped the cases last year.
In August 2007 Nokia asked the U.S. International Trade Commission to bar the import of some Qualcomm chips, and phones using those chips, to the United States as they infringe five Nokia patents. The case was terminated in November based on ongoing arbitration.
Nokia has also filed counter-suits against Qualcomm in the United States -- these cases are either on hold or combined with others.
Reporting by Tarmo Virki, editing by Maureen Bavdek