ZTE Files Patent Infringement Suit Against Ericsson

First Published Monday, 11th April 2011 11:10 am - © 2011 Dow Jones


(Adds background on Ericsson lawsuits against ZTE in paragraphs 2 and 7, updated Ericsson comment in paragraph 6, and background on ZTE patent invalidation move in China against Ericsson in paragraphs 8-9.)

By Owen Fletcher

Of Dow Jones NEWSWIRES

BEIJING -(Dow Jones)- Chinese telecommunications hardware maker ZTE Corp. (0763.HK) on Monday filed a lawsuit in China against a unit of Swedish rival Telefon AB L.M. Ericsson (ERIC) over alleged patent infringement, said Wang Haibo, ZTE's intellectual property director.

The move escalates a legal battle that began when Ericsson said earlier this month it filed patent-infringement lawsuits against ZTE in the U.K., Italy and Germany, and highlights ZTE's growth overseas in competition with Western rivals. Such lawsuits are common between global rivals in high-tech industries.

ZTE's suit against Ericsson (China) Communications Co. alleges Ericsson products sold in China violated ZTE patents covering core networks, global system for mobile communications, and fourth-generation mobile technology, and asks that the company be ordered to cease the infringement and pay unspecified damages, Wang told Dow Jones Newswires.

Wang said the number of ZTE patents in the case is "less than 10" and declined to say in which court ZTE filed the suit.

The "possibility exists" that ZTE could file further lawsuits against Ericsson in China or abroad, Wang said, declining to say what patents they might involve.

Ericsson spokesman Fredrik Hallstan said the company hasn't received notice of the lawsuit yet and declined to comment further.

Ericsson said earlier it filed its lawsuits against ZTE in Europe as a "last resort" to obtain a licensing agreement with ZTE and payment for its use of Ericsson patents, after years of talks. Ericsson alleged ZTE was using the patented technologies covering areas such as mobile technology WCDMA in its handsets, network infrastructure, or both, in the three European countries.

ZTE responded earlier this month by saying it would launch "patent invalidation procedures" against Ericsson in China. In a submission to China's State Intellectual Property Office, ZTE argued that three Ericsson patents covering second- and third-generation mobile technology should be invalidated since they don't meet criteria such as "creativeness" required for a patent, Wang said.

Wang said there is a chance the invalidation request could be processed this year but emphasized the time frame is hard to predict.

-By Owen Fletcher, Dow Jones Newswires; 8610 8400 7702; owen.fletcher@dowjones.com

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