Nokia asks US to ban import of Qualcomm products

Nokia Corp. wants the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) to ban the import of Qualcomm Inc. chipsets that allegedly infringe on five patents held by the Finnish handset maker.

“We’re alleging that Qualcomm has engaged in unfair trade practices through infringement of certain Nokia patents,” said Rick Simonson, Nokia’s chief financial officer, in a podcast released to explain details of a complaint filed with the ITC.

The patents that Nokia claims have been infringed by Qualcomm are related to chipsets used in cellular phones, including 3G (third-generation) handsets.

Simonson said the relevant patents are not essential to maintaining compliance with industry standards, and therefore Nokia can decide whether or not it wants to license them to another company.

“We’ve requested the ITC, first that they initiate an investigation and ultimately what we’re looking for is for them to issue an exclusion order to bar the importation of the relevant infringing Qualcomm chipsets and the products that contain them from coming to the United States,” Simonson said.

Nokia’s action steps up an ongoing legal dispute with Qualcomm. For nearly two years now the companies have squared off against each other over patent licensing, resulting in several lawsuits.

Last year, Qualcomm filed a complaint against Nokia with the ITC over GSM (Global System for Mobile Communication) patents, and a hearing on that case is scheduled to be held next month, Simonson said.

More recently, the two companies squabbled over the renewal of a patent licensing agreement that expired in April. That led to Qualcomm filing a lawsuit against Nokia in April over its alleged infringement of two patents, followed by a Nokia countersuit in May alleging that Qualcomm infringed six Nokia patents.

Qualcomm has filed 11 patent suits against Nokia altogether in various jurisdictions, including two in China. In response, Nokia has filed six counterclaims, including the complaint filed with the ITC.

Nokia isn’t the only company involved in patent disputes with Qualcomm.

In June, the ITC banned the import of some Qualcomm chips and the handsets that use them after ruling last year that the company infringed patents held by Broadcom Corp.

Earlier this month, U.S. President George W. Bush decided not to act on a request by Qualcomm to overturn the ban, and the company said it would appeal the ruling in court.

In a separate case between Broadcom and Qualcomm, a jury ruled that Qualcomm infringed on more Broadcom patents, awarding the company US$19.6 million in damages. Qualcomm has announced plans to appeal that decision.

Desk edit by: James Niccolai

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