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Qualcomm and Nokia ink deal. Hell reported 'chilly'

It's been one of the great spats of the mobile world - Nokia versus Qualcomm. At heart were vertiginous stacks of disputed intellectual property; both companies owning essential IP that the other needs to make competitive mobile phone technology.

It's been one of the great spats of the mobile world - Nokia versus Qualcomm. At heart were vertiginous stacks of disputed intellectual property; both companies owning essential IP that the other needs to make competitive mobile phone technology. Qualcomm is notoriously hard-nosed in its approach to IP licensing, while Nokia didn't get to be the biggest mobile phone company in the world by downplaying the Finnish trait of shrewd, obdurate, bloody-mindedness when its interests were threatened.

They'd had cross-licensing agreements in the past, but as the mobile industry got more lucrative it became clear that both felt hard done by. In 2007, the latest agreement expired and the lawyers were summoned for what promised to be a court case of tremendous durability and immense enrichment for m'learneds. At one point, Qualcomm's legal bill was expected to edge towards quarter of a billion dollars a year.

In July last year, a deal was struck on the courtroom steps - Qualcomm got 1.7 billion euros, Nokia got a good deal on future royalties - and they agreed to bury the hatchet beneath a pile of wonga for fifteen years.

SInce then, of course, that pile of wonga has been blown away like autumn leaves in the winter wind. Qualcomm and Nokia have decided to huddle together even closer for warmth. They've just announced a deal for Nokia 3G handsets using Qualcomm chips and Symbian S60 software, launching next year in the US and elsewhere later. This gives Nokia another shot at the American market, which has proved rather resistant to its charms to date, and marks the final stages in a kiss-and-make-up deal which could only be matched elsewhere by Richard Stallman becoming godfather to Steve Ballmer's children.

Hard times? Interesting times.