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Qualcomm lawsuit may be stopped, rules judge

Nokia will have another chance to stop a lawsuit brought by chip maker Qualcomm in the latest twist in a long-running patent battle between the companies. A US appeals court has ordered a reconsideration of an earlier decision in Qualcomm's favour.23 Oct 2006

The dispute centres on patents owned by Qualcomm which it sought to protect in a court case begun last November. That case asked for a block to be put on Finland's Nokia's sale of mobile phones which Qualcomm claimed used technology that infringed its patents.

Nokia has tried to resolve the situation by the use of an arbitrator and had asked for the law suit to be delayed pending the outcome of arbitration.

A Californian federal court denied Nokia the right to a stay of the case in March this year. The US Courts of Appeal for the Federal Circuit has just ruled, though, that that decision must be re-considered.

The Appeals Court has ruled that the lower court "did not perform the correct inquiry" and must re-consider whether or not to allow Nokia to delay the court action until arbitration has run its course.

The case involves 11 Qualcomm patents and one belonging to its subsidiary SnapTrack. The case was filed just a week after Nokia joined with other companies to complain to the European Commission about Qualcomm's use of patents for third generation mobile phone technology.

Nokia, Panasonic, Broadcom, NEC, Texas Instruments and Ericsson claimed to the Commission that Qualcomm violated Europe's anti-trust regulations

An administrative judge ruled earlier this month that Qualcomm infringed some patents belonging to Broadcom. That judge did find, though, that not all of Broadcom's infringement claims were justified.

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