Qualcomm Brings Patent Dispute Against Meizu to US, France, Germany

By Jeffrey Burt  |  Posted 2016-10-17 Print this article Print

Qualcomm is taking its licensing dispute with Chinese smartphone maker Meizu beyond the borders of China.

The mobile chip maker this summer filed more than a dozen complaints against Meizu with intellectual property courts in China in hopes of pressing the device maker to agree to terms of a patent licensing agreement that the two companies have been negotiating for more than a year.

Now Qualcomm officials are filing complaints with the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) as well as similar agencies in Germany and France. The inability to reach a deal with Meizu gave the chip maker no other options, according to Don Rosenberg, executive vice president and general counsel at Qualcomm.

"Meizu's refusal to negotiate a license agreement in good faith and its sales and distribution of infringing products around the world leave Qualcomm with no choice but to protect our patent rights through these additional legal proceedings," Rosenberg said in a statement.

Qualcomm has had an eventful couple of years in regard to patent licensing in China. Early last year, Qualcomm agreed to pay a $975 million fine and to parameters for patent licensing deals with Chinese device makers to settle a yearlong antitrust investigation by National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), China's antitrust arm.

Since that time, more than 100 Chinese smartphone makers—including Xiaomi, ZTE and Vivo Communication Technology—have signed licensing deals with Qualcomm that comply with the terms reached between Qualcomm and Chinese regulators. Meizu has become the highest profile holdout, despite reported rumors in the country that the two sides were close to reaching a deal.

In a statement responding to the latest Qualcomm complaints, Meizu officials said they are willing to sign a licensing deal with the chip maker, but that the terms were unreasonable. In addition, they cautioned that should "Qualcomm succeed … the entire Chinese mobile phone industry will face a crisis."

According to Qualcomm officials, the company has filed at complaint with the ITC and a patent infringement action with the Mannheim Regional Court in Germany, and has begun an infringement-seizure action in France in an effort to discover evidence that could be used for possible future infringement actions against Meizu in France.

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