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ZTE and Ericsson go to war over patents

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Ericsson and ZTE are hurling suits at each other in a full-on war over patents.

Last week Ericsson launched actions across Europe against ZTE, claiming breach of Ericsson patents. ZTE has responded in kind, with patent claims of its own in China.

Ericsson filed in the UK, Italy and Germany, claiming that handsets manufactured by the China-based ZTE, and on sale in Europe, breach Ericsson patents. ZTE's filing is in China, and claims that Ericsson networking kit is infringing its own patents on GSM and LTE technologies, though it refused to provide any details.

ZTE's intellectual property director did tell Dow Jones that Ericsson was infringing less than ten patents held by the company, but declined to say in which court the filing had been made or which patents were being infringed. Once those details emerge we'll know more, though probably not much more given the addition of a formidable language barrier to the already impenetrable legalese of patent filings.

Ericsson holds a decent patent portfolio, having been a major player in the evolution of mobile telephony standards, and remains one of the largest suppliers of networking infrastructure. ZTE is generally perceived as a manufacturer of cut price handsets, but claims to have 30,000 R&D staff around the world, and owns seven per cent of the key patents covering LTE (4G) technology. So we're only in the opening salvos of what will likely become a major battle. ®

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