Qualcomm Wants Arbitration

Some see signs of a patent thaw with licensee Nokia.
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Qualcomm

(QCOM) - Get Report

filed for arbitration in its patent dust-up with

Nokia

(NOK) - Get Report

.

The San Diego-based Qualcomm asked the American Arbitration Association to rule that Nokia's continued use of Qualcomm's patents in Nokia's CDMA cellular handsets "constitutes an election by Nokia to extend its license under the parties' existing agreement."

The news comes as the companies continue to haggle over the terms of a license due to expire Monday. Nokia said earlier Thursday it would unilaterally pay Qualcomm $20 million for second-quarter licensing rights without affecting the existing dispute.

Qualcomm responded Thursday afternoon that "Nokia has no more right to unilaterally set a price than the average consumer has a right to walk into a store, take a product off the shelf, and walk out with it after leaving only a fraction of the established price on the counter. Leaving some money on the counter does not make the act any less unlawful."

Despite the bluster, some observers see signs of progress.

JPMorgan analyst Ehud Gelblum sees the flurry of activity as a sign that the two titans are starting to come to the table. "This appears to be an 'opening bid' from NOK as it indicated it continues to negotiate with QCOM," he wrote Thursday.

On Thursday, Nokia rose 28 cents to $23.62 and Qualcomm fell 78 cents to $42.87.