Legal wrangling between technology giants Nokia and Qualcomm has intensified after the Finnish mobile phone maker filed two suits claiming the US company’s patents in Europe had expired.

Nokia is hoping a victory will mean it no longer has to pay Qualcomm royalties for chips made by the US company that it uses in Nokia mobile phones sold in Europe.

Yesterday’s move carries particular significance as it comes amid protracted and heated negotiations between the two companies over the renewal of a broader technology licensing agreement.

This agreement expires on April 9 and involves global fees that Nokia pays Qualcomm for the use of its technology in all its mobile phones, running to tens of millions of dollars a year.

The two companies are fighting in and out of court over the renewal, with Nokia demanding the fees be reduced and Qualcomm trying to maintain them at existing levels.

Nokia’s decision to challenge the viability of Qualcomm’s patents in Europe is an aggressive ploy to pressure the US company to settle before April 9, people close to the situation said.

Qualcomm supplies chips for mobile phones based on CDMA, a widely-used US mobile technology, and is also a supplier of chips based on W-CMDA, which is popular in Europe.

The US firm has filed a complaint against Nokia with the US International Trade Commission alleging the Finnish company infringed its patents and has also taken legal action in the US.

The latest skirmish appears linked to last week’s agreement between Qualcomm and Broadcom, a US rival, over patent-related issues, which allowed the two to avoid a series of lengthy, expensive and potentially damaging trials over the issue.

Nokia filed its suits in Germany and the Netherlands and hopes the case will be referred to the European Court of Justice, a process that could take several months.

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