Qualcomm Claims Victory in Korean Patent Spat

Qualcomm Inc. said Thursday the Korean Industrial Property Office (KIPO) had found in its favor for the vast majority of a series of patent infringement claims brought against the company by rival Motorola Inc.

KIPO upheld the validity of Qualcomm's patents in 46 of 49 complaints filed by Motorola relating to Korean Patent No. 134390 -- "System and method for generating signal waveforms in a CDMA cellular telephone system."

The patent covers systems for generating basic waveforms for CDMA (code division multiple access) wireless systems, including the current-generation IS-95 standard and future third-generation (3G) wireless systems, Qualcomm said. Specifically, Motorola's claims dealt with inventions that allow multiple users to share the same frequency band without suffering interference from one another, the company said.

Concerning the three claims that were found in Motorola's favor, Qualcomm Vice President and Chief Patent Strategist Ben Miller said in a statement that the company plans to appeal the ruling.

Korea is a major market for both companies. In 1996 it became the first nation in the world to launch commercial CDMA-based cellular services and continues to be one of the largest markets worldwide for the technology. Nationwide, around 21 million people use CDMA-based telephones, according to government data, and Motorola has managed to carve out a place as a major producer of handsets.

Qualcomm, too, counts Korea as important. The Korea Herald recently reported local manufacturers are estimated to have paid US$500 million to Qualcomm to date in royalties for the CDMA technology.

The Korean ruling comes just over four months after the U.S. District Court in San Diego, California, found in Qualcomm's favor in a similar suit brought by Motorola [See "UPDATE: Qualcomm Acquitted of Motorola Charges," Aug. 30, 1999].

The U.S. action was a counter-suit that became part of a legal spat between the two wireless technology companies. The dispute has been going on since March 1997, when Motorola launched legal auction to stop Qualcomm selling its Q-phone on the grounds of patent infringement.

Qualcomm, in San Diego, can be found at +1-858-658-2100 or online at http://www.qualcomm.com/. Motorola, in Arlington Heights, Illinois, can be found online at http://www.motorola.com/.

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