Nokia steps up pressure on Qualcomm

Qualcomm faces another possible ban from the lucrative US market after Nokia asked the US International Trade Commission to investigate the company. Some Qualcomm products are already banned for import by the ITC.

Earlier this year the ITC, part of the US executive, found that some Qualcomm chips for use in mobile phones infringed patents held by rival Broadcom and banned their import. The US Trade Representative Susan Schwab recently refused to overturn the ban.

Now Nokia is seeking a ban on the import of some Qualcomm products, claiming that they infringe its patents.

"Qualcomm's unfair trade practices include importing products, selling products for importation, and/or selling products after importation, and inducing others to import products such as handsets, that infringe Nokia patented technology in certain Qualcomm GSM/WCDMA and CDMA2000 chipsets," said a Nokia statement.

Nokia said that the patents refer to technology to improve the performance and efficiency of mobile phones.

"There is significant evidence to warrant an ITC investigation into Qualcomm's business conduct," said Rick Simonson, chief financial officer of Nokia. "We are taking this action to stop Qualcomm's practice of copying Nokia's patented technology, without permission, and making these innovations available to its chipset customers.

"We are seeking the same remedies Qualcomm has sought against Nokia in multiple venues around the world," said Simonson. "Nokia will continue to ensure its rights and competitive advantage is protected."

The ITC's decisions can be appealed through the court system. Qualcomm is already appealing the Broadcom-related ruling. That court case had to wait until Schwab's ruling on a veto was issued earlier this month.

The call for an ITC investigation is the latest move in a complicated web of patent disputes involving Qualcomm, Broadcom, Nokia and others that stretches back to 2005.

In 2005 Nokia and others complained to the European Commission about Qualcomm's behaviour over standardisation for third generation (3G) mobile phone networks. Nokia said that Qualcomm agreed that it would not over-charge for licences to its technology if it was incorporated into industry-wide standards.

Once those standards were set, argued Nokia, Qualcomm levied charges that were excessive and disproportionate. That case is ongoing.

A week later Qualcomm filed a suit in the US alleging that Nokia infringed 11 of its patents. Nokia filed another suit in Europe in recent weeks arguing that the patents on which Qualcomm's cases rest have expired in Europe.