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July 21, 2008

Pay Per View

The Qualcomm - Nokia patent battle is like a heavyweight prize fight. So much so, the trial, which begins Wednesday, is being televised on pay-per-view for $400 a day by Courtroom View Network via webcast.

Qualcomm sells cell phone chips, manufactured under license, but half its profits are from patent licensing fees. Nokia, provider of 40% of the world's cell phones, took a license from Qualcomm in 1992, a pact revised in 2001 that expired in 2007. Nokia, feeling aggrieved at having forked over $1 billion, and wanting to stanch the bleeding by paying a lower royalty, decided to let itself be dragged to court rather than pay up.

Nokia argues that Qualcomm has forfeited the leverage of injunctive relief, because in joining a European standard-setting group, it pledged to license its patents under fair and nondiscriminatory terms. Nokia also contends that it has a paid-up license to the most important Qualcomm patents, and that the remainder are piddling by comparison.

Qualcomm counters that Nokia acquiesced to the 2001 agreement by default by continuing to use the patented technology.

Qualcomm is sore about being ganged up on. In 2005, Nokia and five other companies, in an effort code-named Project 17, simultaneously carped to the European antitrust authorities about Qualcomm's patent power. Nokia replied that there is nothing amiss with code names and cooperation. "There is no conspiracy here," a Nokia spokeswoman cooed. The dictionary defines conspiracy as acting in harmony toward a common end.

Qualcomm executives speculate that the major cell phone makers don't like that Qualcomm helps new competition enter the market. Qualcomm expressed no qualms about that being attributed to as a conspiracy.

Posted by Patent Hawk at July 21, 2008 10:51 PM | Patents In Business


Is judge Strine a member of the Screen Actors' Guild? Does he or the court get a cut of the $400 per hour fee? Does Courtroom View Network have an exclusive right to webcast the trial?

Somehow this doesn't smell quite right.

Posted by: Babel Boy at July 22, 2008 8:17 AM