China’s Huawei slaps Samsung with patent infringement suit

Patent suits filed in the US and China.

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 25 May, 2016, 9:45am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 11 October, 2016, 1:04pm

Huawei Technologies and Samsung Electronics, the world’s two biggest Android smartphone suppliers, could be headed for a lengthy legal showdown in the United States and China over alleged patent violations by the South Korean technology giant.

“We hope Samsung will ... stop infringing our patents and get the necessary licence from Huawei,” Ding Jianxing, the president of Huawei’s intellectual property rights department, said in a statement on Wednesday.

Huawei, China’s largest telecommunications equipment manufacturer, filed its patent infringement case against Samsung 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.

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The lawsuit seeks compensation for Samsung’s alleged violation of Huawei’s intellectual property, including 11 patents on 4G mobile-related technology and certain software used on Samsung’s smartphones.

Huawei has claimed an undisclosed cash remuneration, following failed efforts to negotiate licensing terms with Samsung.

It has not sought an order to block the sale of Samsung smartphones in the US, the world’s second-largest market for smartphones after mainland China.

Their patent dispute, however, could turn into a lengthy and acrimonious one as Samsung intends to fight Huawei’s case.

“We may counter-sue. There is no choice but to stand firm when they (Huawei) act like this,” Ahn Seong-ho, Samsung’s intellectual property chief, said in a report by the Korea Herald.

Samsung has plenty of experience in disputes that drag on for years. It has battled Apple over patent infringement lawsuits involving design and mobile technology since 2011.

“We cannot predict the duration of our lawsuit, but Huawei remains open to resolving it through negotiations,” Shenzhen-based Huawei spokesman Roland Sladek told the South China Morning Post.

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A major holder of standard essential patents relating to cellular networks, Huawei claimed to have negotiated with other patent holders in the telecommunications industry for cross-licensing deals.

“We have signed cross-licensing agreements with dozens of our competitors,” Ding said.

Chinese media reported earlier this month 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 agreement, Apple licensed 98 patents to Huawei.

“It’s too early to say, but there’s every possibility that this lawsuit could drag on depending on how intrinsically important the disputed technologies are to Samsung’s products,” said Paul Haswell, a partner at international law firm Pinsent Masons.

“The case underlines the value of patents to technology companies. It’s no coincidence that Huawei and Samsung file a considerable number of patents each year since those can be used as a weapon against a competitor.”

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.