Huawei asks EU to intervene in InterDigital patent dispute

Huawei has called on European antitrust regulators to investigate InterDigital, after it claims the company is pushing up the license fees of industry-standard patents.

Another day, another patent dispute.

To break away from the usual Apple and Samsung tiff, telecoms giant Huawei is calling on European antitrust regulators to settle a patent dispute with InterDigital.

Huawei, the world's number two telecoms equipment maker, says the the U.S.-based wireless giant is demanding "exploitative" fees to license its mobile phone patents, despite InterDigital having to license the patents on "fair and reasonable" --- or FRAND terms.

Such terms mean patents which are "essential" to the industry --- in this case, the mobile phone market --- must be licensed out to other companies fairly and without discrimination, particularly if the company requesting the patents is a direct rival.

Huawei argues that InterDigital is pushing up the fees and "violate FRAND policies." The company called the move "discriminatory."

"They would also penalize European consumers because the fees, if paid, would significantly increase the cost of Huawei's mobile devices and even restrict consumer access to telecommunications technology," a Huawei spokesperson told Reuters.

European antitrust regulators have warned that mobile phone makers are frankly pushing their luck over the constant stream of patent disputes. It warned that the disputes are open as a "tool of abuse" and could be used as weaponry against other companies.

In the past few months, both Microsoft and Apple have filed antitrust complaints to the European Commission over accusations that Motorola violated its promise to license its patents under FRAND terms.

In a similar but separate case, European regulators are investigating Samsung over claims it abused its dominant market share position after it promised to license its industry-standard and essential patents on fair terms.