PATENTS

Qualcomm, Meizu end disputes with mobile patent licence deal

All patent disputes between the two in China, Germany, France, and US resolved, and appropriate steps agreed to terminate or withdraw patent infringement litigation

PUBLISHED : Friday, 30 December, 2016, 6:17pm
UPDATED : Friday, 30 December, 2016, 10:58pm

Chinese smartphone maker Meizu Technology has agreed to resolve all of its outstanding disputes with Qualcomm under a new global patent licence deal with the US-based mobile chip giant.

In a joint statement on Friday, Qualcomm said it has granted Meizu a worldwide royalty-bearing patent licence to develop, manufacture and sell 3G and 4G devices.

They said the agreement resolves all patent cases between the two firms. Qualcomm had initiated litigation against Zhuhai-based Meizu in mainland China in June, as well as in Germany, France and the US in October.

The two companies said they will “take appropriate steps to terminate or withdraw the patent infringement litigations and respective invalidity proceedings or other related litigations”.

Founded in 2003, Meizu is one of a growing number of Chinese smartphone suppliers which sell a range of devices based on either the ubiquitous Android operating system or Alibaba Group’s own YunOS mobile platform.

New York-listed Alibaba, which owns the South China Morning Post, bought an undisclosed stake in privately held Meizu for US$590 million last year.

“Meizu has offered exciting and innovative products for its fans in the last 13 years,” Bai Yongxiang, the president of Meizu, said on Friday. “Today, we are focusing on our vision with better clarity, and striving to become the top designer brand for hi-tech products.”

A Nomura report on Friday said Meizu ranked as mainland China’s 10th largest smartphone supplier, with forecast shipments of 25 million units this year from 22 million in 2015.

Bai said Meizu and Qualcomm reached their agreement after an “equal and fair negotiation”.

The royalties payable by Meizu in China are consistent with the terms of the rectification plan submitted by Qualcomm to China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), according to the US company.

That plan was part of the resolution made by Qualcomm in February to end a 14-month long government investigation in China for anti-competitive practices.

The settlement with Meizu comes three days after Qualcomm also signed a patent licence deal for 3G and 4G devices with another Chinese smartphone supplier, Gionee Communication Equipment Co.

Qualcomm pointed out that all of the top-10 largest Chinese smartphone suppliers have already accepted the company’s NDRC-approved terms for mobile patent licence agreements.

Meizu has offered exciting and innovative products for its fans in the last 13 years. Today, we are focusing on our vision with better clarity, and striving to become the top designer brand for hi-tech products
Bai Yongxiang, president, Meizu

In August, Chinese Android smartphone giants Vivo and Oppo Electronics signed separate 3G and 4G mobile patent licensing agreements with Qualcomm.

Both Oppo and Vivo are subsidiaries of privately held BBK Electronics Corp, which is headquartered in Dongguan in Guangdong province.

Technology research firm IDC has estimated that Oppo and Vivo were the world’s fourth- and fifth-largest smartphone suppliers, respectively, in the third quarter with combined shipments of 46.5 million units.

Samsung Electronics, Apple and Huawei Technologies continued to lead in smartphone shipments in the same period.

Market research firm Counterpoint Technology said in October that Oppo and Vivo controlled almost one-third of mainland China’s smartphone market in the quarter to September 30.

“Qualcomm’s standardised technologies are enabling companies to build new products and services across the wireless ecosystem and are transforming people’s lives,” said executive vice-president Alex Rogers, who also serves as president of Qualcomm Technology Licensing.