LONDON Resolution of one of the long running IPR issues between Nokia Corp. and Qualcomm Inc. has been delayed again as a judge halted legal proceedings just as a deadline neared for the two companies to renew an agreement.
Nokia said the International Trade Commission judge, Robert L. Barton Jr. of the U.S. ITC, ordered a stay of the proceedings indefinitely. A trial in the patent dispute had been scheduled to begin March 5.
Qualcomm filed a complaint with the ITC last June requesting an investigation into the alleged infringement by Nokia's GSM handsets of six Qualcomm patents. The ITC subsequently initiated an investigation the following month.
Nokia has been arguing ever since that it had not infringed any Qualcomm patents that are at issue in this particular investigation. It noted Tuesday (Feb. 21) that since Qualcomm filed its complaint, it had voluntarily withdrawn three of the six patents from the suit. The remaining three are all from the same patent family. Nokia said this reflects on the weakness of Qualcomm's case.
In a statement, Nokia said: "If the case is not dismissed before the stay is lifted Nokia welcomes the opportunity to prove that the claims regarding the three remaining patents have no more merit than those Qualcomm has already voluntarily withdrawn."
Neither company indicated that the delay signaled a possible settlement of any of their numerous legal and trade complaints or progress toward renewal of their licensing agreement, which expires April 9.
At a press conference during the 3GSM World Congress in Barcelona, Spain earlier his month, Paul Jacobs, Qualcomm's CEO, said: "We seem to be as far apart in negotiations as could be and it will take some external arbitration to get any impetus going for an agreement."
Jacobs added that if Nokia decided to stop unilaterally to stop paying royalties on the patents in question, as it indicated it might, "we will take the appropriate actions necessary."
Qualcomm, (San Diego, Calif.) also sued Nokia for patent infringement last year in the U.K., Germany, France and Italy.
Separately, Nokia and five other companies asked the European Commission in October 2005 to investigate Qualcomm's alleged "anti-competitive conduct." The Commission has still to rule on the case.
Qualcomm is also embroiled against Broadcom in numerous patent disputes. Last week, the two chip makers agreed to dismiss claims around two patents belonging to Broadcom and two patents belonging to Qualcomm.
Broadcom's case too was set to begin on 5 March 2007, and will not now go ahead. Qualcomm's cancellation of its two claims has also meant a case due to progress in San Diego is cancelled. Four other trials on cases between the two companies are still scheduled to go ahead.