Samsung signs cellular patent deal with InterDigital, ending all litigation

Samsung previously licensed InterDigital patents

Samsung has signed a patent deal with InterDigital, a week before the U.S. International Trade Commission could have decided to ban the import of several Samsung phones into the U.S.

The license agreement covers the sale of 3G, 4G and "certain future generation wireless products" by Samsung and ends all litigation between the companies until the end of 2017, InterDigital said Tuesday.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Samsung did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Wireless standards developer InterDigital filed a complaint against Samsung with the ITC in January last year, seeking an import ban on Samsung's Galaxy S III and other products that allegedly infringed on InterDigital's patents. A preliminary decision in that case was due next week.

As long as a device operates on a 3G or LTE standard it involves InterDigital's patents, said Patrick Van de Wille, the company's vice president of communications and investor relations. "Any handset that operates on the standard and connects to a tower infringes our patents," he said.

Samsung licensed InterDigital's patents from 2002 to 2012, but when the licensing period ended, InterDigital immediately filed a complaint with the ITC. "As we do with all our licensees we began discussions at that point, but because we don't want discussions to take 12 years, we also filed an ITC action," Van de Wille said.

That complaint also involved ZTE, Nokia and Huawei, whose wireless devices allegedly also infringed up to seven of InterDigital's cellular-related patents.

InterDigital requested that the ITC ban Nokia's Lumia 920, Huawei's MediaPad S7 Pro, the ZTE Avail as well as a host of other phones from being imported into the U.S. Huawei agreed to arbitration late last year and the case continues against Nokia and ZTE, said Van de Wille.

Loek is Amsterdam Correspondent and covers online privacy, intellectual property, open-source and online payment issues for the IDG News Service. Follow him on Twitter at @loekessers or email tips and comments to loek_essers@idg.com

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