Qualcomm Repeats China 3G Ownership Claim - InformationWeek

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11/17/2005
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Qualcomm Repeats China 3G Ownership Claim

Qualcomm Inc. said Thursday that it remains determined to pursue patent-related royalties for TD-SCDMA technology used in China; the country will likely begin to commercialize 3G sometime next year.

HONG KONG — The road to success for China’s domestic 3G mobile standard may still need to take a detour through San Diego, as Qualcomm Inc. said Thursday (Nov. 17) that it remains determined to pursue IP royalties for TD-SCDMA technology.

It’s very likely that China will begin commercializing the technology next year, after it wraps up a final field trial in the spring and once handset vendors have ramped up capacity. But TD-SCDMA, which the Chinese government has favored because much of the IP belongs to domestic companies, may still be subject to claims by CDMA giant Qualcomm.

“We definitely have essential patents in TD-SCDMA, just like in all CDMA related technologies. We have 60 licensees worldwide for TD-SCDMA and w-CDMA, although we don’t have any licensees in China on TD-SCDMA,” said Frank Meng, president of Qualcomm China. “Once it gets to the stage of commercialization, then we will work with the Chinese companies to get licensing agreements.”

Chinese officials and industry players have reacted coolly in the past to Qualcomm’s assertion. Yang Hua, secretary-general of the TD-SCDMA Industry Alliance, said he believes that its members own “most of the core and essential IP” needed in TD-SCDMA, and those patents have been cross-licensed among members.

Li Wanli, vice chairman of the TD-SCDMA Forum, and an executive at Siemens, said Qualcomm has not submitted a detailed list of patent claims regarding TD-SCDMA, despite raising the issue about two years ago. “If they do so, then we can begin to negotiate,” he said.

Meng said Qualcomm will probably step up its efforts to iron out an agreement in the next year.

Even with loose ends regarding IP, the level of royalty payments for TD-SCDMA isn’t expected to reach the level it did with CDMA in China, said Johan Pross, chief executive of T3G, a TD-SCMDA chipmaker backed by Philips, Motorola and Samsung.

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