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Patent troll targets ZTE

Legal hit lands after US congress adds ZTE, Huawei, to security risk list

Chinese telecoms kit maker ZTE was hit with more bad news on Monday when intellectual property firm Vringo announced it was suing the firm’s UK subsidiary over patent infringement.

Vringo, which claims it has an IP portfolio of over 500 patents and patent applications in the telecoms space, said it had asked ZTE in September to fork out for three European patents.

ZTE’s cell network technologies fall within the scope of all three patents - 1,212,919; 1,166,589; and 1,808,029 – while the latter covers its GSM/UMTS multi-mode wireless handsets, Vringo alleged.

These patents were part of a sizeable chunk acquired by the IP firm from Nokia back in August for over $20 million and it seems intent on making its money back as soon as possible.

Vringo’s, head of licensing, litigation, and intellectual property, David Cohen, said the court action against ZTE is just “an initial step in Vringo's global licensing and enforcement program in the telecommunications sector”.

He added the following in a canned statement:

ZTE has elected not to take a license to patents in Vringo's portfolio relevant to certain international standards, despite manufacturing and selling devices and equipment for a number of years that are said by ZTE to be compliant with those standards. We believe that ZTE is aware that it requires licenses to all patents that are essential to relevant standards. Further, we believe that ZTE is familiar with systems for declaring patents to standards-setting organisations and the relevant intellectual property rights policies for those organisations, having itself declared hundreds of patents to international standards.

Monday was a bad start to the week all round for ZTE after the US House of Representatives Intelligence Committee slammed it and Shenzhen neighbour Huawei after an 11-month long investigation into concerns technology produced by the two represents a national security risk.

Things then went from bad to worse after Cisco dropped the Chinese telecoms giant after apparently deciding that it illegally sold its products to Iran. ®

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