Tech Industry

InterDigital calls for sales ban against Samsung, Nokia, others

A complaint filed by InterDigital with the U.S. International Trade Commission wants a ban on wireless devices made by Samsung, Nokia, ZTE, and Huawei Technologies.

InterDigital is on the patent warpath again.

The company, famous for holding a boatload of patents on wireless products, filed a complaint yesterday with the United States International Trade Commission against the usual round of tech players.

Citing infringement against seven of its patents, InterDigital wants the ITC to ban the U.S. import of products made by Samsung, Nokia, ZTE, and Huawei.

Specifically, InterDigital alleges that the companies in question have engaged in unfair trade practices by selling certain 3G and 4G wireless devices that violate the seven patents. Without naming any specific products, the complaint points to mobile phones, USB sticks, mobile hot spots, laptops, and tablets.

Headquartered in Philadelphia, InterDigital develops and patents wireless technologies used in an array of devices.

"Wireless technology continues to advance at tremendous speed based on the contributions that InterDigital and others have made to core connectivity technology," Lawrence Shay, president of InterDigital's patent holding subsidiaries, said in a statement. "For InterDigital, that effort represents roughly one billion dollars of research and development involving hundreds of wireless engineers over decades. While the vast majority of our dozens of licensees recognize our contributions and choose to license our portfolio based on discussions alone, in some cases we're forced to resort to legal action."

InterDigital wants the allegedly-infringing products barred from entry into the U.S. and is seeking a sales ban of any of the devices already in the country. The ITC has 30 days to decide whether to launch an investigation. InterDigital also filed a parallel complaint with the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware, looking for both a sales ban and an unspecified amount in damages.

A spokesperson for Samsung told CNET that the company is "currently in the process of reviewing the filings." A rep for Nokia told us that the company is aware of the complaint and will "defend itself in this matter to ensure its rights are protected."

This isn't the first time InterDigital has sent its patent dogs after the companies listed in today's complaint.

In 2011, InterDigital filed an ITC complaint against Nokia, Huawei, and ZTE alleging infringement against 3G patents.

In the past, the company has reached patent agreements with Samsung and Apple.

One company that escaped the current complaint is Research In Motion. Yesterday, the BlackBerry maker expanded an agreement that will allow it to use InterDigital's patented technology in its upcoming BlackBerry 10 devices.

And in a break from its patent battles, InterDigital is working with Sony to develop wireless machine-to-machine technologies. Also known as M2M, these technologies allow different devices to exchange data wirelessly, an area where InterDigital has a certain expertise.

The two companies will form a joint venture known as Convida Wireless that will drive research in M2M wireless communications.

"Mobile is one of Sony's core businesses, and this joint venture will help us strengthen our foundation in this important area, focusing specifically on machine-to-machine wireless technologies." Toshimoto Mitomo, executive vice president of entrepreneurship and innovation for Sony Corporation of America, said in a statement. "Given the pioneering efforts of InterDigital's engineers in this growing field, we can't think of a better partner."

Updated 10:30 a.m. PT with response from Nokia.