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Smartphones

China’s Huawei casts wider net for its 4G patent disputes

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 06 July, 2016, 9:19pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 06 July, 2016, 11:56pm

Huawei Technologies, China’s largest telecommunications equipment manufacturer, has cast a wider net for its patent-infringement litigation as it targets a unit of Samsung Electronics on the mainland and mobile network operator T-Mobile in the United States.

The two new lawsuits followed Huawei’s decision in May to slap Samsung, the world’s biggest smartphone supplier, with lawsuits for alleged patent violations at the District Court for the Northern District of California in San Francisco and at the Intermediate People’s Court in Shenzhen, where the privately held Chinese company is based.

Mainland media reported on Wednesday that Huawei has extended its patent dispute against the Korean technology giant by filing a case against its domestic operation, Samsung (China) Investment, at the Intermediate People’s Court of Quanzhou in Fujian province.

Huawei has claimed 80 million yuan (HK$93 million) in compensation for violating its patents on mobile terminal and display-related processing methods used on a range of Samsung smartphone models, including the Galaxy S7, the Galaxy S7 edge and the Galaxy J5, according to online news site qzwb.com

Huawei is prepared to grant licenses to its essential patents on fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory terms
Huawei statement

Those smartphones were reportedly assembled at Samsung’s factories in Huizhou and Tianjin.

The two previous lawsuits filed by Huawei against Samsung covered the violation of 11 patents on 4G mobile-related technology and certain software used on Samsung’s smartphones.

Roland Sladek, a spokesman for Huawei, previously said the company remained open to resolving its patent disputes with Samsung through negotiations.

“We may counter-sue,” Ahn Seong-ho, Samsung’s intellectual property chief, told the Korea Herald in May.

The patent dispute against Nasdaq-traded T-Mobile was filed by Huawei at the US District Court for the Eastern District of Texas in the city of Tyler.

Huawei’s lawsuit said it offered to grant T-Mobile a license to use the firm’s 4G patents under “fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms”, but the mobile network operator refused, according to a report on Wednesday by the Puget Sound Business Journal.

The Chinese company said it started licensing discussions in 2014 with T-Mobile, covering about 14 of its 4G patents. It said Bellevue, Washington-based T-Mobile refused to sign an agreement and has continued to use the technologies protected by those patents.

“Huawei is prepared to grant licenses to its essential patents on fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory terms,” the company said in a statement. “Huawei believes it has already offered exactly such terms to T-Mobile, but T-Mobile has stated that it does not believe that Huawei’s offer meets the requirements of a FRAND offer.”

As of December 31, Huawei had been granted 50,377 patents around the world. These patents relate to the 4G mobile standard called Long Term Evolution, operating systems and user interface.

Yan Zhanmeng, a senior analyst with research firm Counterpoint Research, said it was too early to determine if Huawei could win all these cases it has filed.

“But the lawsuits would definitely help build up Huawei’s influence in the high-end smartphone market,” Yan said. “It does not matter if Huawei wins or not, the strategy is to get the market to directly compare its products with Samsung’s high-end devices.”

Chinese media reported in May that Apple has started paying patent fees to Huawei worth “hundreds of millions of dollars” annually.

The news report cited the Guangdong Intellectual Property Office, which said Huawei licensed 769 patents to Apple last year. As part of their deal, Apple licensed 98 patents to Huawei.