Nokia and InterDigital Drop UK Patent Suits

Nokia and InterDigital have agreed to drop patent-related lawsuits that they filed against each other in England, InterDigital said on Wednesday.

In two separate cases, the companies accused each other of falsely claiming to hold patents that were essential to the UMTS (Universal Mobile Telecommunications System) 3G (Third-Generation) standard. Vendors who make equipment that complies with the standard must pay licensing fees to the developers who contribute patents to it.

The cases were brought in the English High Court. Terms of the agreement to drop the lawsuits are confidential, the companies said.

The suits weren't the only disputes between the companies. A case brought by InterDigital in the U.S. International Trade Commission is ongoing. InterDigital accused Nokia of unfair trade practices for importing products to the U.S. with components that infringe on InterDigital patents. InterDigital also filed a patent-infringement complaint against Nokia in the U.S. District Court in Delaware.

In 2006, the International Court of Arbitration ruled that Nokia should pay InterDigital US$230 million as part of a disagreement between the companies about how to interpret their licensing agreement. InterDigital brought that ruling to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York in order to force Nokia to pay. Nokia ultimately paid the fine, plus an additional $5 million.

Nokia is also embroiled in an acrimonious battle with Qualcomm over wireless patents. The prevalence of these patent-infringement cases indicates how much these companies believe the wireless industry is worth, but also points to the complexity of current-generation wireless technology, which required input from more companies than previous mobile standards did.

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