The big news out of wireless technology firm Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) yesterday wasn't its solid fiscal third-quarter earnings report. Instead, the company made headlines by announcing the settlement of its long-running patent licensing dispute with the world's largest mobile phone manufacturer, Nokia (NYSE:NOK).

The settlement includes several agreements between the two companies, most prominently a new, 15-year patent license agreement. This license will have Nokia pay Qualcomm an up-front fee, as well as ongoing royalties through 2022, across a broad range of current and future technologies. Qualcomm and its investors were pleased with the deal, and shares soared nearly 20% this morning, adding almost $15 billion to the company's capitalization.

Coincidentally, the agreement came on the very day that Qualcomm and Nokia were due to walk into court in Delaware. The court announced a delay in the hearing, creating an eerie similarity to 1999. Back then, a court hearing in Marshall, Texas with Ericsson (NASDAQ:ERIC) was also delayed, allowing the two companies to hammer out a major agreement covering the 3G technologies now becoming prevalent today.

This major milestone also has Nokia assigning certain patents to Qualcomm, and it paves the way for the two companies to collaborate in a number of areas, rather than paying millions to spar in courts around the world. It also gives Qualcomm the rights to incorporate Nokia technology into its chipsets. The alignment of a major supplier and technology partner should ease concerns from major carriers AT&T (NYSE:T), Verizon (NYSE:VZ), and Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S).

While the dispute with Nokia is separate from Qualcomm's legal wrangling with Broadcom (NASDAQ:BRCM) and other parties, the landmark settlement will go a long way toward defusing industrywide efforts against Qualcomm. Nokia will withdraw a complaint it lobbied to the European Commission, leaving the other five parties without a big ally.

While Qualcomm did estimate that the agreement will add $0.07 to $0.13 per share to fiscal 2008 earnings, it noted that it has yet to fully hammer out the financial impact of the settlement. More importantly, though, the agreement positions Qualcomm well for the next major standards battleground -- the wireless Internet battle between LTE and WiMAX.

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