Ericsson, NEC end Qualcomm licensing disputes

Natalie Apostolou & Dylan Bushell-Embling
25 Nov 2009

Ericsson and NEC have abandoned their long-running wireless patent battles with Qualcomm, officially withdrawing their complaints to the European Commission (EC).

The six companies who filed suit against Qualcomm in 2005 had now all withdrawn their complaints, the EC said. As a result, “the commission doesn’t consider it appropriate to invest further resources in this case.”

Ericsson said in a statement that it would withdraw its complaint to the EC after co-operating with a four-year investigation.

“[Ericsson] will, however, continue its ongoing dialogue with competition authorities around the world in relation to Qualcomm's licensing practices,” the company said.

NEC said it decided to withdraw its complaint because Japanese antitrust authorities had already ordered Qualcomm to cease the licensing practices at the heart of the dispute.

Ericsson said its decision to withdraw the complaint came after the Japanese order, as well as a parallel ruling and fine by antitrust authorities in South Korea.

“This (the EC complaint) is taking a lot of resources, legal resources, and it's costing us a lot,” an Ericsson spokeswoman said.

The EC launched a probe against Qualcomm in 2005 after Ericsson, Nokia, Broadcom, Panasonic, NEC and TI asked the competition watchdog to examine Qualcomm's royalties and licensing terms.

The complainants alleged that Qualcomm had refused to license patents to chipset competitors “on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms” while “offering lower royalty rates to handset customers who buy chipsets exclusively from Qualcomm.”

Qualcomm settled its legal dispute with Nokia in July last year in a $2.5 billion deal. Qualcomm and Broadcom agreed on an $891 million, four-year settlement.

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