This isn’t the first time the companies have clashed horns. Earlier this month, Sony Ericsson decided to file three patent infringement lawsuits against the Chinese company. The complaints on the patents concerned – filed in the UK, Italy and Germany – were made after Ericsson couldn’t reach a licensing agreement with ZTE.
In turn it accused ZTE of infringing patents relating to GSM and WCDMA. According to Ericsson, ZTE uses the patents in its handsets, its network infrastructure, or both, in the three European countries.
It asked the courts to to stop sales of ZTE products that use the technology in question.
As is the way of these tiffs, ZTE has countersued on similar terms. It claims Ericsson products sold in China have violated patents relating to 4G, GSM and others. The products are allegedly “less than 10”, but ZTE wants the products off the shelf and for Ericsson to cough up on damages.
Talking to TechEye, IP expert Florian Mueller has reckons ZTE’s coutersuit is a “very significant development.”
“It’s the first major patent clash between a large European company and a Chinese counterpart,” he said.
“ZTE is a fairly innovative company that owns many patents not only in China but also in other parts of the world. From what I know, it files for more patents on a worldwide basis than any other Chinese company.
“It’s quite possible that ZTE owns patents to which Ericsson needs a licence. I believe this dispute will most likely result in a cross-license agreement at some point.”