European Commission to investigate 3G licensing

The European Commission is to investigate the 3G patent licensing policies of US-based Qualcomm after six separate complaints from rivals in the field.

The European Commission is to investigate the 3G patent licensing policies of US-based Qualcomm after six separate complaints from rivals in the field.

Broadcom, Ericsson, NEC, Nokia, Panasonic and Texas Instruments have alleged anti-competitive behaviour by Qualcomm in its licensing of essential 3G handset technology.

Qualcomm developed the CDMA chip technology used in 3G handsets in the US and owns essential patents in relation to W-CDMA chips used in handsets in Europe and other regions.

The companies that have complained to the European Commission allege that Qualcomm is breaking promises it made to international standards bodies before 3G was commercially rolled out, and that its licensing policy is not based on reasonable and non-discriminatory terms.

The complainants say that the price they pay to license W-CDMA technology is too high, as Qualcomm’s contribution to the technology is not as great as that for CDMA, which it essentially owns.

They also allege that some companies that agree to use chips exclusively from Qualcomm get better technology licensing deals.

Qualcomm said the allegations are without substance and called them a negotiating ploy to win better terms under future licensing agreements.

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