Nokia moves to block Qualcomm patents in Europe

Nokia has moved to block the use of rival Qualcomm's patents in Europe, claiming they are exhausted and no longer apply. The move is the latest skirmish in a long-running patent battle between the companies.

Nokia said that it has filed cases in Germany and The Netherlands arguing that Qualcomm patents have expired. Qualcomm owns patents in technology used in products such as mobile phones. It licenses that to manufacturers for use in chips.

Nokia claims that patents in chipsets by Texas Instruments, which has a patent licensing deal with Qualcomm, are invalid. If Nokia wins its cases then Qualcomm would not be able to force a licensing deal on Nokia in relation to Texas Instrument chips used by the handset manufacturer.

The cases have been filed in the Regional Court of Mannheim in Germany and the Hague District Court in The Netherlands, according to a Nokia statement. Qualcomm has not made a comment about the case.

Nokia has long paid Qualcomm licensing fees but a long-running deal expires in April and the two companies are at loggerheads over what kind of deal will replace it. The current deal is a cross-licensing one, involving some Nokia intellectual property as well as Qualcomm IP.

Qualcomm filed a patent infringement suit against Nokia in autumn 2005 alleging that the company violated 11 of its patents. That suit came just a week after Nokia and five other mobile network and chip companies complained to the European Commission about Qualcomm's licensing practices.

That complaint, which is still being investigated, centred on allegations that Qualcomm was not behaving fairly in its licensing of patents related to 3G technology. They said that Qualcomm broke promises it made to international standards bodies that it would license its IP fairly if it were adopted as an industry standard. It said that the charges levied by Qualcomm were excessive and disproportionate.