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Vringo sues ZTE for alleged patent infringement

The company -- a ringtone seller now morphing into a patent troll -- claims the Chinese telecom-equipment and handset maker ZTE violates three of its patents, and has asked for damages.

Vringo, a company that offers ringtones, but has increasingly relied on licensing its patent portfolio, is the latest to take aim at ZTE.

The company announced today that it has filed a lawsuit against the Chinese telecommunications equipment company, saying that it has violated three of its patents. According to the lawsuit, which was filed in the U.K. High Court of Justice, Chancery Division Patents Court, Vringo alleges that ZTE's cellular network technologies, as well as its GSM/UMTS multimode wireless handsets, are violating its patents.

ZTE has suffered through an awfully tough day. In addition to getting hit with this lawsuit, the company was cited in a House Intelligence Committee report that claimed Huawei and ZTE should not be allowed to operate in the U.S. because they pose a threat to national security.

"Neither company was willing to provide sufficient evidence to ameliorate the Committee's concerns," the committee wrote in its report. "Neither company was forthcoming with detailed information about its formal relationships or regulatory interaction with Chinese authorities. Neither company provided specific details about the precise role of each company's Chinese Communist Party Committee."

Both Huawei and ZTE have been working hard to expand their U.S. telecom-equipment businesses. But U.S. lawmakers, as evidenced in the latest report, believe such a move could be harmful to the country. Australia has expressed similar issues with the companies.

On the lawsuit front, ZTE's troubles might not be as major. At this point, the company has only been hit with a complaint, and Vringo hasn't outlined exactly what it would like in damages. That said, the company did say that it expects the court to inquire about a sum and include all necessary interest.

"ZTE's liability will continue to increase as long as the issue remains unresolved," Alexander R. Berger, Chief Operating Officer at Vringo, added in a statement today. "We hope that ZTE will work with us to resolve this matter in a positive and productive manner."

CNET has contacted ZTE for comment on the Vringo lawsuit. We will update this story when we have more information.