Chinese tech giant sees technological breakthroughs as revenue streams
Chinese telecommunications equipment and services provider Huawei Technologies Co confirmed on Wednesday that it has filed patent infringement suits against its rival Samsung Electronics Co in two courts in China, as part of a series of intellectual property rights (IPR) disputes the company is dealing with.
Huawei is looking for legal protection for its property rights and for a "reasonable" compensation in the case against Samsung, according to an announcement the company sent to the Global Times on Wednesday.
Samsung was reportedly asked to provide 80 million yuan ($11.95 million) as compensation in the suit filed with Quanzhou Intermediate People's Court, local newspaper Southeast Morning Paper in Quanzhou, Southeast China's Fujian Province, reported on Tuesday.
However, Huawei declined to comment on the details of the suit as it is still an ongoing case, the announcement showed.
The second case is filed with Shenzhen Intermediate People's Court in Shenzhen, South China's Guangdong Province, according to Huawei.
The suit filed with the Quanzhou court concerns Huawei's display and processing technology and user hardware which 16 Samsung products allegedly infringe on the property rights of the Chinese company, the local newspaper said.
Huawei has been actively and strategically using the IPR sector as a battlefield to help compete against global tech giants such as Apple Inc and Samsung.
The tech firm is using the patent laws as a "new weapon", experts told the Global Times on Wednesday.
As a means of winning a larger market share in the telecommunication industry, Huawei has been mulling over a so-called patent strategy in recent years, Xiang Ligang, CEO of telecommunication industry portal cctime.com, said, noting that the company has been trying to enhance its brand and influence through these IPR cases because of its heavy investment in research and development (R&D).
In 2015, Huawei invested 15 percent of its annual revenue -$9.2 billion - in R&D, while over the past decade the company's total investment has exceeded $37 billion, according to its annual financial report for 2015 published in April.
Huawei announced that its suit against Samsung for alleged patent infringement related to the unlicensed use of fourth-generation (4G) cellular communications technology, according to Reuters.
Meanwhile, Huawei will likely charge Apple with patent fees, as it had licensed 769 patents to the US tech giant in 2015, including those related to the GSM, UMTS and LTE wireless communication technologies, according to a post published by the State Intellectual Property Office on May 10.
Over the same period, Apple licensed 98 patents to Huawei, the post showed.
Huawei, like many other tech giants, have quickly incorporated IPR as part of its corporate strategy, said Zhao Zhanling, a legal advisor with the Internet Society of China.
"A strong patent portfolio in high-tech industry brings increased revenues, and Huawei is already aware of that and sees it as a goal," he noted.
In addition to the legal action against Samsung, Huawei also filed a patent suit against US telecommunication operator T-Mobile U.S. Inc with the U.S. District Court in eastern Texas on Tuesday (U.S. time).
The case is regarding a 4G wireless license Huawei granted to T-Mobile on terms and conditions that were fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory (FRAND).
The U.S. firm refused Huawei's FRAND offer but continued to use its technologies, according to a legal document published on U.S. document-sharing website scribd.com.
"The company pays about $300 million every year for IPR licenses, and it has been stepping up efforts in making technological breakthroughs and resolving patent disputes," Xiang said, noting that the company has been an industry leader in applying for new patents worldwide in recent years.
As of December 2015, Huawei has applied for 52,550 domestic patents and an additional 30,613 overseas, according to their office. The company has received authorization on 50,377 of the patents.
Huawei was the top Chinese telecommunications company for filed patents in 2015, with 3,898 applications, an increase of 456 from 2014, according to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) website.
Qualcomm Incorporated and ZTE Corp ranked second and third, with 2,442 and 2,155 applications, respectively, the WIPO website showed.