Ericsson-ZTE legal spat escalates

ZTE has responded to Ericsson's legal action with one of its own

In what looks increasingly like a spate of tit-for-tat disputes between Western and Chinese equipment manufacturers, Chinese vendor ZTE has said that it will sue rival Ericsson for patent infringements. Last week, Ericsson announced that it had filed three lawsuits against ZTE for alleged breach of patents covering its 2-and-3G technologies.

The action, launched on Monday, sees ZTE alleging that Ericsson (China) Communications has breached patents on a range of products involving “core networks, GSM infrastructure and 4G infrastructure.” In apparent reference to Ericsson’s allegations that ZTE had refused to sign any licensing agreements, the Chinese vendor issued a statement saying that it was “fully committed to developing its own patent technology and respects reasonable patent requests from other vendors.”

Last week, Ericsson filed suits in the UK, Italy and Germany, claiming that ZTE had breached patents covering technology such as WCDMA, which ZTE uses in its handsets and network infrastructure in the three countries in question. ZTE’s intellectual property director Wang Haibo said that that it had been discussing a patent cross-licensing deal with Ericsson and that the company had been “sincere in seeking agreement with Ericsson over intellectual property rights and patent licensing.” Ericsson, for its part, claims that, following lengthy attempts to reach an agreement with ZTE, it had no option but to “ask the court to enforce our rights.”

Ericsson’s legal challenge is believed to include a requirement that sales of ZTE handsets featuring Ericsson technology will be halted; sales of certain components of ZTE’s network infrastructure in Germany are also believed to be under threat from the challenge.

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