Qualcomm Slammed With European Patent Complaints

Nokia, Ericsson and four other mobile technology providers have filed complaints with the European Commission alleging that Qualcomm is engaging in anticompetitive conduct in licensing its 3G patents.

October 28, 2005

2 Min Read
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Qualcomm was hit in Europe with complaints from six companies over its patent policies regarding its WCDMA 3G standard. The firms filing the complaints with the European Commission in Brussels are Broadcom, Ericsson, NEC, Nokia, Panasonic Mobile Communications and Texas Instruments.

The complaints maintain that Qualcomm is charging royalties for WCDMA patents at the same royalty rate it charges for its CDMA2000 3G handset. Generally, WCDMA is more likely to be used in European markets rather than CDMA2000, which is a more robust technology.

Qualcomm was not immediately available for comment, but in the past the firm has said its licensing practices are "lawful, fair, reasonable and pro-competitive."

Qualcomm has been embroiled with Broadcom in litigation over the past several months with each firm suing the other in U.S. courts over patent and other trade issues. Qualcomm and Texas Instruments have also squared off against each other over patents.

"Each complaint is a unique case," said TI spokeswoman Gail Chandler Friday of the European filings. "But there are similar themes." She added that the complaints were filed Wednesday."We believe Qualcomm has abused its licensing position in certain standards and has inhibited legitimate competition," said TI general counsel Joe Hubach in a statement.

The litigation catches Qualcomm as the worldwide move to 3G begins to gather momentum. Qualcomm's CDMA2000 is used by Verizon Wireless and Sprint while its WCDMA technology is being adopted by many mobile phone service providers who use the GSM European standard. Cingular Wireless, which has more subscribers than any other U.S. mobile phone service provider, and T-Mobile in the U.S. are leading candidates for WCDMA.

The European litigation centers on chipsets and handsets. In an announcement Friday, the six companies maintained that Qualcomm has not been meeting its commitment to "international standard bodies around the world that it would license its technology on fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory terms. Absent these commitments, the WCDMA 3G standard would not have been adopted…"

The announcement continued, "Qualcomm has committed a number of abuses, ranging from the refusal to license essential patents to potential chipset competitors on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms to offering lower royalty rates to handset customers who buy chipsets exclusively from Qualcomm."

While Broadcom and TI have been sparring with Qualcomm over patent and intellectual property issues for several months, the Broadcom-Qualcomm bout has recently taken on new intensity. Last week Qualcomm filed its second lawsuit against its Southern California business neighbor charging patent infringement. Previously, in May, Broadcom had filed with the U. S. International Trade Commission against Broadcom.In an announcement Friday, Broadcom's David A. Dull said: "Major telecommunications equipment companies on three continents are standing up and saying that Qualcomm's business practices are unfair, anticompetitive and ultimately illegal." Dull is the firm's senior vice president, business affairs; general counsel, and secretary.

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