Publicly traded InterDigital, Inc. has been hit with an international salvo of complaints over the NPE’s alleged breach of its fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory (FRAND) licensing obligations as to certain standard essential patents (SEPs) covering cellular technologies. In California, Swiss semiconductor firm u-blox has sued InterDigital for allegedly insisting on unfair and discriminatory licensing terms for certain 2G, 3G, and 4G patents while using abusive tactics to force it to take a license, including inappropriate communications with its customers and downstream manufacturers. The plaintiff has asked the court to determine a FRAND licensing rate, enjoin InterDigital from making further contact with its clients, and to issue a declaration of noninfringement for certain wireless communications products, including cellular modules implementing the LTE standard. Meanwhile, InterDigital disclosed on January 7 that it was just sued in China by Huawei, which has alleged that the NPE has violated its FRAND obligations as to certain patents related to 3G, 4G, and 5G standards. Huawei has purportedly asked the court to determine the proper licensing rate for certain wireless products following the expiration of a license at the end of 2018.
InterDigital, Inc.’s third quarter earnings call on November 1 included an update on the company’s integration of Technicolor’s patent licensing business. It also revealed InterDigital’s potential plans for expansion in China.
Following InterDigital, Inc.’s announcement last month of its acquisition of Technicolor’s patent licensing business—a deal the company says will “extend its licensing program to new activities in the consumer electronics field”—assignments received from LG Electronics, and most recently, Huawei, were recorded with the USPTO. April has also seen another transfer from NXP Semiconductor to an affiliate of Fortress Investment Group LLC; transfers of more than 100 US patent assets from NXP to Fortress have been recorded to date.
The Federal Circuit has affirmed a Delaware jury’s October 2014 infringement verdict for InterDigital, Inc. in the NPE’s case against ZTE (1:13-cv-00009). In a decision issued on November 3, the court upheld District Judge Richard G. Andrews’s post-trial ruling that the jury’s finding of infringement as to three wireless communications patents had been properly supported by the evidence, also affirming Judge Andrews’s construction of a key claim term (2016-2362). That verdict issued in the first of two trials in the same lawsuit, the second of which culminated in a finding of noninfringement for ZTE as to a fourth patent in April 2015.
For the fourth quarter of 2016, InterDigital, Inc. has reported that its revenue more than doubled over the same period last year due to the signing of a key license agreement with Huawei, with net income more than four times higher than in Q4 2015. However, Tessera Holding Corporation recorded a loss for the fourth quarter of this year, citing costs related to its acquisition of DTS Corporation in December. In contrast with InterDigital, Tessera has increasingly sought to characterize itself as a product licensing company, announcing the day before its earnings report that it has rebranded itself as Xperi Corporation.
During the second half of October 2016, RPX took note of eight patent transfers to NPEs. Assignees included two NPEs controlled by Monument Patent Holdings, LLC; a new NPE managed by IP Valuation Partners LLC; and an NPE with apparent ties to Nicolas J. Labbit. Several of the transacted patents have been asserted in litigation filed over the past month.