Qualcomm Says It Don't Need No Stinkin' Nokia Patents

In today’s episode of As The Wireless Patents Turn, it’s Qualcomm making the noise. After Nokia said yesterday it would pay the company $20 million to cover some royalties for the second quarter, Qualcomm retaliated by filing a request for arbitration in the case, along with rulings that Nokia’s continued use of Qualcomm IP after their deal expires Monday represents a decision by Nokia to continue the terms of the current deal, and that if Nokia sues Qualcomm for patent infringement, Qualcomm can simply cut off Nokia’s ability to license its patents. Qualcomm’s lawyer is also saying that the company may not need any of Nokia’s intellectual property, which, if true, would hurt Nokia’s bargaining position. All of this talk (from both sides) should be taken with a grain of salt. Qualcomm has an obligation through certain standards bodies to license some of its IP, while Nokia’s $20 million payment would certainly seem on the low side. Still, no matter how this spat plays out, it’s worth examining what it means for Qualcomm in the long term. A key part of Nokia’s argument that it should pay lower royalties is that Qualcomm’s IP isn’t as critical to 3G as it once was. That claim may be up for some debate, but the bigger issue for Qualcomm is that operators and vendors are examining 4G and alternative technologies in which Qualcomm has minimal IP (though of course it could always buy some) simply because the model of stockpiling patents, trying to control standards bodies and wringing money out of an industry won’t win you many friends.

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