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US trade watchdog deep-sixes patent infringement claim against Microsoft

InterDigital ain't 'appy with ITC decision

Microsoft has swerved a potentially crushing blow to its vanishingly small mobile biz, after a US watchdog swiped away a request to block the import of its Lumia handsets into the country.

InterDigital, which had been in a patent spat with Nokia many years before Redmond scooped up the mobile maker, said it was disappointed with the International Trade Commission's decision.

The firm's boss William J Merritt said that InterDigital expected the outcome of the ruling to have only a minor impact on its business, given Nokia's "limited market position" under Microsoft's control.

"InterDigital will continue to seek compensation for past infringement and the further unlicensed use of our contributions to wireless mobile communication standards," he added.

Microsoft had not violated InterDigital's patents, the ITC concluded, and thereby dropped its probe into the software giant.

Last week, Redmond slung a sueball at InterDigital – which has been battling Nokia (and now Microsoft) since 2005 – for relief from patent demands.

In its suit, Microsoft claimed that InterDigital was breaching the US 1890 Sherman antitrust act as a SEP partner by – among other things – charging too much, tying in useless patents to essential ones, not actually making any products and discriminating against MS because it's a small player in the market.

InterDigital has 800 patents covering technology in the LTE standard and over 1,000 for 3G handsets.

Microsoft reportedly said it was "grateful" that the ITC had ditched its investigation.

The Commission's decision can be viewed here (PDF). ®

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