ITC Launches Probe of Nokia 3G Handsets
The International Trade Commission voted Sept. 5 to investigate antitrust complaints that Nokia is importing 3G mobile handsets and components into the United States that infringe on patents held by Interdigital Communications.
The InterDigital complaint filed with the ITC on Aug. 7 identifies Nokias N75 handset, which operates on 3G WCDMA cellular systems, as "capable" of infringing on two InterDigitals patents.
"By instituting this investigation, the ITC has not yet made any decision on the merits of the case," the Washington-based ITC said in a statement. The case will be referred to an ITC administrative law judge, who will make an initial determination whether there is merit to the case. The decision is subject to final review by the ITC.
The King of Prussia, Pa.-based InterDigital is seeking a ban on the import of the Nokia N75 and a cease and desist order to bar further sales of models that have already been imported into the United States.
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"Despite our efforts to resolve 3G patent licensing matters with Nokia, we have been unable to come to an agreement," InterDigital President and CEO William J. Merritt said in the Aug. 7 ITC complaint. "As a developer of advanced innovative technologies and an owner of a large and growing patent portfolio, if we cannot negotiate an acceptable license agreement with a company using our inventions, we will aggressively defend our intellectual property rights"
InterDigital has also filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware alleging that Nokias 3G mobile handsets and components infringe the InterDigital patents identified in the ITC complaint.
If the ITC ultimately rules against Nokia, it will join San Diegos Qualcomm in facing an import ban on its 3G mobile broadband handset models and cell phones. On June 7, the ITC voted to ban the U.S. import of wireless devices that use Qualcomm chips and chip sets that infringe on certain Broadcom patents.
Qualcomm first sought a White House veto of the ban but after the administration declined, the company has turned to the courts. The ban has yet to take effect and could be lifted if Qualcomm and Broadcom can reach an agreement on licensing terms.
Nokia is also asking the ITC to ban certain Qualcomm products. On Aug. 17 it filed an ITC complaint to bar the import of some Qualcomm chip sets to the United States, alleging they are infringing five Nokia patents.
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