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Huawei Files EU Antitrust Complaint Against InterDigital

Huawei Technologies Co., China’s largest phone-equipment maker, filed an antitrust complaint with European Union regulators that accuses InterDigital Inc. of refusing to license key wireless patents.

Huawei alleges that InterDigital is abusing a dominant position for 3G technology patents agreed as industry standards and has made “unreasonable and discriminatory demands” on license fees, said Roland Sladek, a spokesman for Huawei in Shenzhen, China. Huawei filed the complaint May 23 because there was “no foreseeable resolution” to talks on the fees, it said in a statement yesterday.

“Such inflated demands from InterDigital could penalize European consumers” if they had to pay more for mobile phones and other products, Sladek said.

Google Inc.’s Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co. are being probed by the European Commission over whether they violated agreements to license standards-essential patents to other mobile-phone manufacturers on fair terms. The EU probe into Motorola Mobility followed complaints from Microsoft Corp. and Apple Inc. this year.

“InterDigital has not seen the complaint that was filed so we can offer no specific response to whatever issues might be raised,” Lawrence Shay, the president of the company’s digital holding units, said in a statement. “We have in the past licensed, and continue to license, technologies on the terms set forth in our commitments” to standards organizations.

Antoine Colombani, a spokesman for the European Commission in Brussels, said regulators had received the complaint and “will examine it.”

1,300 Patents

InterDigital, the owner of about 1,300 U.S. patents related to mobile phones, last year filed a case with the U.S. International Trade Commission in Washington, alleging that Huawei, Nokia Oyj, ZTE Corp. and LG Electronics Inc. infringed patents related to so-called third-generation wireless technology. It has also sued the companies in federal court in Wilmington, Delaware, making the same allegations.

In January, InterDigital, based in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, said it concluded a review on a potential sale without finding a buyer for the company and has instead decided to focus on patent sales and licensing. The company has said its patents were deeper and stronger than those that Nortel Networks Corp. auctioned for $4.5 billion.

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