Huawei drills into patent dispute with Verizon

Song Liuping, Huawei’s chief legal officer, says during a Thursday press conference that Huawei will not 'weaponize' its patent portfolio. (Huawei)

Ahead of President Trump's planned meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Huawei drilled down on its patent claims against Verizon during a Thursday press conference.  

Speaking at a press conference at the company’s headquarters, Song Liuping, Huawei’s chief legal officer, said Huawei would not "weaponize" its portfolio of patents. Instead, Huawei will adopt an open and cooperative attitude and follow the FRAND principle, or “fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory,” when engaging with relevant parties in the industry on patents licensing, according to Song.

RELATED: Huawei targets Verizon for $1B in patent fees

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Earlier this month, Reuters reported that Huawei was seeking $1 billion in patent-related royalties from Verizon for violating 238 patents that cover core, wireline and IoT technologies being used in Verizon's network.

While Verizon isn't a Huawei customer, the Chinese company claimed that Verizon should pay the hardware and software licensing fees because Verizon does rely on more than 20 vendors that use technology owned by Huawei, according to a story by The New York Times (NYT). 

Republican Senator Marco Rubio has described Huawei’s demand against Verizon as “baseless,” and filed legislation to prevent Huawei from seeking damages in U.S. courts.

"We simply don’t believe Marco Rubio’s amendment could be passed as law,” said Song Liuping, said at the company’s Shenzhen headquarters on Thursday, according to Reuters.

In addition to Song's press conference, Huawei also released a white paper on innovation and intellectual property (IP), and warned against the issue being politicized.

“If politicians use IP as a political tool, they will destroy confidence in the patent protection system. If some governments selectively strip companies of their IP, it will break the foundation of global innovation,” said Song, in a prepared statement.

The patent dustup comes against the backdrop of mounting trade war tensions between China and the U.S.

Last month, the U.S. Department of Commerce put Huawei on a trade blacklist, which is called an Entity List, that was designed to make it difficult for the world's largest telecom vendor to do business in the U.S. The blacklisting, set to take effect after a 90-day reprieve, would require U.S. companies to ask the government's permission to do business with Huawei.

Over the past few months, Huawei has aggressively pushed back as the U.S. has urged other countries, such as the U.K., to take similar measures. Huawei faces a threat to its supply chain as several companies, including Arm and Google, have said they would no longer do business with Huawei if the issues with the U.S. government weren't resolved.

Google has suspended business with Huawei in some areas, and said it would no longer allow access to software updates for its Android operating system and apps that are used in Huawei's smartphones and tablets.

Xi and Trump are slated to meet this Saturday in Osaka, Japan, during the G20 Summit. The WSJ reports that Xi plans to present President Trump with a set of terms the U.S. should meet, which would include lifting the U.S. ban on technology sales to Huawei.

On Wednesday, a U.S. jury cleared California semiconductor designer CNEX Labs Inc of stealing trade secrets from Huawei while awarding CNEX no damages on its own trade theft claims, according to Reuters.

While Huawei has long been accused of stealing other companies' intellectual property, Song said that over the past 30 years no court has ever found that Huawei has engaged in IP theft and that the company has never had to pay court damages in this area.

Huawei's white paper, titled “Respecting and Protecting Intellectual Property: The Foundation of Innovation,” provides background information Huawei's practices in and contributions to innovation and the protection of intellectual property rights.

By the end of last year, Huawei had been granted 87,805 patents, of which 11,152 were U.S. patents. Since 2015, Huawei has received over $1.4 billion in licensing revenue.

Aside from accumulating patents of its own, Huawei has also paid more than $6 billion in royalties to legally implement the IP of other companies, with nearly 80% of that paid to American companies, according to the paper.

“As always, Huawei is ready and willing to share our technology with the world. That includes 5G. It includes U.S. companies and U.S. consumers. Together, we can drive our industry forward and advance technology for all mankind,” said Song.

Trump and Xi's Saturday meeting could lead to Huawei being removed from the U.S. Commerce Department's Entity List, which would not only benefit Huawei, but also the vendors and trade associations that it does business with in the U.S.

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