EU closes case after Huawei, InterDigital settle patent dispute

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - European Union antitrust regulators closed the case brought by Chinese network equipment maker Huawei Technologies Co Ltd against and U.S. patent licensing firm InterDigital after they settled the patent dispute out of court. Desperate to protect their technology patent advantages and maximise revenues in a fiercely competitive industry, scores of companies, including Apple, Samsung and Google, are embroiled in disputes among themselves and with others. World No. 3 smartphone maker Huawei took its grievance to the European Commission two years ago, saying InterDigital demanded "exploitative" fees for the use of its 3G mobile phone patents. InterDigital could have been fined up to 10 percent of its revenues if the Commission had found in favour of Huawei. InterDigital's revenue was $325.4 million last year. The two companies however resolved their patent licensing disputes in December, agreeing to withdraw lawsuits and antitrust complaints against each other, the Commission said. "The Commission was informed of the withdrawal of Huawei's complaint on 7 January 2014. The case has therefore been closed. There was no formal investigation," Antoine Colombani, spokesman for competition policy at the EU executive, said. The Commission can pursue cases even after companies have settled the dispute between themselves if it suspects possible anti-competitive practices or has gathered enough evidence. (Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; Editing by Robert-Jan Bartunek and Louise Ireland)