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InterDigital expects to be able to be licensed 5G tech Huawei despite US ban

FILE PHOTO: Small toy figures are seen in front of a displayed Huawei and 5G network logo in this illustration picture, March 30, 2019. REUTERS/dado Ruvic/Image/File Photo

(Reuters) – InterDigital Wireless Inc. said Monday that this license, the 5G network technology for Huawei Technologies Co Ltd, despite the threat of a U.S. ban on the sale of chips and software to the Chinese telecommunications company, and patent attorneys said Qualcomm Inc is likely also that can do that.

InterDigital and Qualcomm are the two major U.s. holders of patents for wireless networks, including 5G networks to roll out this year in China. Last week, President Donald Trump has an executive order restricting the ability of AMERICAN companies to sell technology to Huawei, although officials on Monday illuminated a number of limitations for 90 days.

InterDigital, which generates revenue by developing wireless technology, and then licensing out the patents, said that it believes that it can continue its efforts to strike a 5G agreement with Huawei, because the export control laws do not cover the patents, which are public records and hence not confidential technology.

“The addition of Huawei, the Entity List, however, does not prevent InterDigital from the conclusion of a licensing agreement with Huawei, because our patents cover technologies that are available to the public and is therefore outside the scope of the U.S. export control laws,” InterDigital spokesman Patrick Van de Wille told Reuters in a statement.

Qualcomm has not responded to a request for comment. But trade lawyers said that the situation is probably the same for the San Diego-based company. Qualcomm also sells chips to Huawei, but only for Huawei’s lower-priced phone. It generates most of its profit from licenses.

“If you give Huawei rights to your patents, all that basically means that you’re not going to sue them,” said Erick Robinson, a partner with Dunlap Bennett & Ludwig, who previously worked as a patent attorney for Qualcomm in China. “You’re not passing on information.”

Huawei, the world’s third largest smartphone supplier and also a major supplier of telecommunications equipment, is a major customer for both InterDigital and Qualcomm. The Chinese tech firm 14% of InterDigital’s $533 million in sales in 2017, the most recent year for which figures are available.

Both American companies are in the middle of the license dispute with Huawei over 5G technology. Huawei sued InterDigital in China in January, alleging the Wilmington, Delaware-based company was looking to cost too much for its patents, a claim InterDigital disputes.

Qualcomm has had a patent agreement with Huawei since 2014, but Huawei stopped paying in 2017. Qualcomm expects to get $450 million in “good faith” payments this year as the two sides negotiate.

Reporting by Stephen Nellis; Editing by Greg Mitchell and Leslie Adler

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