Nokia won a legal victory on Wednesday in its long-running cross-licensing dispute with Qualcomm, the biggest mobile phone chipmaker, after a US trade judge ruled it had not infringed on three of the chipmaker’s patents.

Qualcomm had filed a complaint to the International Trade Commission - which determines whether imports unfairly injure US companies - in June 2006. It asked the ITC to ban the importation of the infringing technology, which controls signal power to mobile phones.

The case has been part of the legal pressure exerted by Qualcomm to persuade Nokia to agree to licensing fees for Qualcomm-patented technology in 3G phones. Nokia has argued it should pay less than for previous generation handsets.

Nokia has also countered with its own patent-infringement complaint to the ITC, but it was rejected.

The companies’ cross-licensing agreement expired in April, but Nokia paid $20m in royalties in the second-quarter to cover payments. Qualcomm called it insufficient.

Rick Simonson, Nokia chief financial officer, applauded Wednesday’s decision.

He described it as important for the whole telecoms industry, saying Qualcomm was “stuck in the past”, trying to transfer its rights under the 2G CDMA technology to 3G’s W-CDMA, “where it is one contributor amongst many.”

Qualcomm officials were unavailable for immediate comment.

Qualcomm has said mounting legal fees will affect its profitability as it fights a number of patent cases with Nokia and its chip rival Broadcom.

Wednesday’s decision could still be overturned by the ITC. Qualcomm said it would petition for a review, with a decision expected by next April.

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