InterDigital Joins the Patent Fray; Accuses Nokia, Huawei and ZTE of Patent Infringement

Almost all the major smartphone manufacturers in the U.S. are currently at war with each other. Apple has sued Samsung and HTC over patent infringement, Nokia has won a patent settlement from Apple, Microsoft is making more money from Android than it ever did from Windows Phone 7. Even Oracle, which seemingly has nothing to do with smartphones is suing Google over the use of Java in Android.

Patent portfolios of bankrupt companies like Nortel are being sold for billions of dollars, and the value of companies with huge patent portfolios, like InterDigital and Motorola, has increased significantly in the last month.

InterDigital’s stock price rose over 65% in 3 days since it was revealed that Google and Apple were looking to acquire it for its massive portfolio of over 8,800 patents related to wireless technology.

Well, that was then. According to a press release by InterDigital, it seems like they have decided to enter the patent wars themselves. They filed a patent infringement complaint with the U.S. International Trade Comission against Nokia, Huawei and ZTE, alleging that they imported 3G wireless devices to the U.S. which infringed upon 7 patents owned by InterDigital.

It also stated that its talks with Nokia, Huawei and ZTE regarding a settlement or a licensing agreement failed to reach a resolution.

Over the past thirty years, InterDigital has invested nearly one billion dollars in the development of advanced digital cellular technologies, creating important innovations, and helping to drive an industry creating billions of wireless connections,said Lawrence Shay, President of InterDigital’s patent holding subsidiaries. During that period, we have signed dozens of license agreements with manufacturers, giving them access to a patent portfolio of approximately 19,000 issued patents and patent applications among the largest wireless portfolios in the world,continued Shay. The vast majority of our agreements have been reached without the need for litigation. However, despite having engaged in good faith efforts to license our patents to Nokia, Huawei and ZTE, we have not been able to reach an acceptable resolution. As a result, to protect our intellectual property and the interests of our licensees, we made the decision to bring legal action against these parties.

The timing of this complaint seems a bit suspect. It might be used as a bargaining chip to demand a higher price from Google or Apple.

Here’s the complete press release by InterDigital:

InterDigital Files Complaint Against Nokia, Huawei and ZTE With International Trade Commission

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