Samsung Settles 3G Patent Dispute With InterDigital

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Samsung Electronics entered into a patent licensing agreement with InterDigital on Monday, just a day ahead of a U.S. decision on whether or not to bar Samsung 3G handsets from entering the country.

The settlement resolves disputes on 2G (second-generation mobile technology) and 3G (third-generation mobile technology) patents held by InterDigital. The deal licenses Samsung to use InterDigital technology in 3G products through 2012, and ends royalty disputes over Samsung sales of 2G products.

Samsung has 45 days to determine how to make payments to InterDigital. The value of the agreement was not disclosed.

The deal comes just a day before the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) was to make a final decision on whether or not to bar Samsung 3G mobile phones and other products from importation to the U.S. InterDigital filed the ITC case in the middle of last year.

The settlement does little to end patent licensing issues related to 3G technology.

Many companies license certain 3G technology from Qualcomm, a leader in wireless technology and the world's largest seller of mobile phone chips. But some of Qualcomm's technology is tied to earlier CDMA (code division multiple access) related patents developed in the 1980s by people that worked at InterDigital prior to moving on to Qualcomm.

In the mid-1990s, Qualcomm and InterDigital fought patent battles over these technologies. According to Qualcomm, their settlement allows Qualcomm to sublicense, or pass through, some of InterDigital's intellectual property to Qualcomm licensees, depending on the terms of the licensing agreement.

The complexity of these licensing deals has apparently caused confusion in the market and led to litigation. InterDigital has signed licensing agreements with a number of wireless products makers, and remains in litigation with mobile phone market leader Nokia.

InterDigital continues to develop wireless technologies as well as chips for wireless devices.

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