Ericsson and Qualcomm have ignored a threat from the International Telecommunications Union that CDMA based proposals for IMT-2000, the third generation of mobile standards (3GMS), could be excluded if their patent row was not resolved by the end of 1998.
Officials from the two companies said they are holding fast to patent statements submitted late last year to the ITU, upholding their intellectual property rights (IPRs) on CDMA based technology. Both companies claim to hold IPRs vital to the development of Europe's UMTS norm.
"We believe that convergence is possible, but there should be a single converged worldwide CDMA standard for 3GMS. This standard must accommodate equally the two dominant network standards in use today [IS-41 and GSM-MAP]," said Molly Foerster, director of business development for Qualcomm Europe.
"Also, disputes on specific technological points should be resolved by selecting the proposal that is demonstrably superior in terms of performance, features or cost," she said, "But we have not yet been able to engage in a meaningful conversation with Ericsson,."
Qualcomm will license its extensive CDMA patents to ETSI and European suppliers only if the European norm meets a set of fairness principles the US company has set, she said. If not, the company can deploy another technology it has pioneered - High Data Rate - together with first generation CDMA.
"This is the fallback that we have, but that would leave the EU with TDMA based techonology and that is not the way forward for the third generation," she said.
A spokesperson for Ericsson said Europe has sufficient knowledge and experience to deal with CDMA on its own without requiring Qualcomm's patents.
"There is a harmonisation going on all the time here and I think everyone is showing a willingness to work together. Many institutions and organisations say they expect a family of standards to emerge," he said.
"But it's up to Qualcomm now to make the next move - it hasn't really changed its position significantly. The way it is presenting its claims towards licensing and IPRs is detrimental," he said, referring to Qualcomm's fairness principles.
The ITU said it is proposing to schedule a number of IPR meetings to address the situation.
"The ITU's December deadline passed and the scenario we are now faced with is one we have foreseen - we more or less anticipated difficulties. But on the plus side, we received many statements from manufacturers telling us they are willing to negotiate their patents," said Fabio Leite, counseller on IMT-2000 at the ITU.
'If the current situation does not change, there is no way a decision on CDMA technology, or any other technology held by IPRs can be taken. This is crystal clear, but that does not mean we should put a stop to technical work,' he said.
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