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Qualcomm wins patent fights

After nearly three years of challenges by Siemens, Motorola and others, trade regulators uphold the wireless technology company's right to CDMA patents.

Trade regulators in Europe, Korea and Japan have upheld Qualcomm's right to several patents, the company said Wednesday.

The decisions end nearly three years of challenges by Siemens, Motorola and others in the telephone industry. The companies questioned Qualcomm's right to license Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) to phone manufacturers. Siemens and Motorola, for example, believed they had the right to the patents in those countries and wanted to license CDMA themselves. CDMA is cell phone software developed by Qualcomm that runs in about 20 percent of the world's cell phones.

The patent wins are important to Qualcomm because the company makes most of its revenue by licensing CDMA to major phone makers and cellular providers. The patent decisions also protect Qualcomm's market share in Asia, one of the largest cell phone populations in the world.

The European Patent Office on Wednesday upheld Qualcomm's rights to a patent for a device that controls the strength of a CDMA cell phone signal. Companies first began fighting this patent in 1998.

In Korea, Qualcomm's patent on a device that shapes radio waves so cell phones can send and receive calls was upheld. The decision set aside claims from three companies, Qualcomm said.

Japanese regulators have upheld Qualcomm's claim to a patent for technology that enables cell phone tower antennas to receive a number of different signals at once.

CDMA's rival is GSM, or Global Systems for Mobile Communications, which powers about 70 percent of the world's cell phones.