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InterDigital launches new patent battle with Nokia, Huawei, and ZTE

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U.S. wireless technology developer InterDigital has filed a complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission against telecom gear makers Nokia, Huawei, and ZTE, alleging the many of the companies’ products—ranging from USB sticks to mobile hotspots to tablets, phones, and device components—infringe on InterDigital patents covering aspects of WCDMA and cdma2000 technologies. InterDigital has also filed a complaint against the companies in Delaware, and wants the ITC to block importation of the devices into the United States.

The ITC has 30 days to decide whether it will launch a formal investigation.

“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 the president of InterDigital’s patent holding subsidiaries Lawrence Shay, in a statement. “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.”

This isn’t the first time InterDigital has gone after Nokia: the companies had a similar patent dispute way back in 2005 over 3G UMTS technology that took a couple years to resolve; in the end, the court found that two of InterDigital’s patents were “essential” to the UMTS WCDMA standard—however, the patents in that case are not included in InterDigital’s current complaint.

The patent suit and ITC complaint come in the wake of recent industry reports that Google is courting InterDigital as a possible acquisition target: the suits may be part of a broader negotiating ploy to raise the potential value of the company and thus enable the firm to command a larger acquisition price. Google seems to be on a patent shopping spree, and—in the wake of being beaten out for Nortel’s substantial patent portfolio—InterDigital’s collection of 1,400 U.S. and roughly 8,000 non-U.S. telecommunications-related patents might be looking awfully attractive. InterDigital indicated last week it is looking at “strategic alternatives” that might include a sale or acquisition.