Qualcomm has filed a lawsuit against Nokia claiming patent infringement.
Qualcomm claims Nokia has infringed 11 ofits patents related to GSM, GPRS and EDGE - unusual because Qualcomm is best known for the development of CDMA, a different type of wireless technology that emerged after the creation of GSM.
Qualcomm said that demand and competition from CDMA has led GSM developers to evolve to support better data performance, increase spectral efficiency, enhance capacity and improve resistance to interference, among other functions, and in doing so they infringe on Qualcomm patents.
Nokia said in response that it hadn't received a copy of the complaint but that Qualcomm has a duty to licence the relevant patents on fair reasonable and non-discriminatory terms. Nokia also said that Qualcomm had not provided it with proposed terms for licensing the patents.
An analyst with Yankee Group, John Jackson, said even though this suit involves GSM, GPRS and EDGE, at its heart it's about next-generation WCDMA (Wideband CDMA). The licensing situation with WCDMA is very different than for CDMA and GSM, he said. "The licensing regimes around both CDMA and GSM are pretty unambiguous," said Jackson. "In both cases, the key or essential patent holders have entered into an agreement the principle of which is that they are not going to make a living off of selling licences."
Qualcomm intellectual property dominates the CDMA standard so the company earned significant revenue from the setup. With WCDMA, however, 15 or more vendors contributed intellectual property to the standard, far more than in GSM or CDMA. Because Qualcomm doesn't sell handsets or equipment, it doesn't benefit from the strategy the other vendors take to mitigate licence fees and earn revenues on equipment sales.
Last month, a handful of companies including Nokia, Ericsson, Broadcom, Texas and NEC filed complaints with the European Commission charging Qualcomm with anti-competitive behaviour.
In July, Qualcomm filed a suit against Broadcom complaining Broadcom infringes on six of the same patents that Qualcomm now says Nokia infringes. Another suit from Qualcomm against Broadcom followed in October. Both allegations follow an earlier suit from Broadcom, filed in May, charging Qualcomm with infringing on 10 of Broadcom's patents.