Huawei sues Verizon in Texas for patent infringement

Huawei is suing Verizon in two patent infringement lawsuits in Texas. (FierceTelecom)

Huawei is not making any new friends in Washington, D.C., by filing two patent infringement lawsuits against Verizon. Verizon responded to the two lawsuits by calling them a publicity stunt and "a sneak attack on our company and our nation."

Against the backdrop of tariff and trade tensions between the Trump administration and the Chinese government, Huawei filed patent infringement lawsuits against Verizon in the United States District Courts for the Eastern and Western Districts of Texas on Thursday.

Huawei is seeking compensation for Verizon's use of patented technology that is protected by 12 of its patents, according to Huawei's press release. Huawei didn't say how much it was seeking in compensation from Verizon.

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"Verizon's products and services have benefited from patented technology that Huawei developed over many years of research and development," said Dr. Song Liuping, Huawei's chief legal officer, in a prepared statement. "For years now we have successfully negotiated patent license agreements with many companies. Unfortunately, when no agreement can be reached, we have no choice but to seek a legal remedy.

"This is the common practice in the industry. Huawei is simply asking that Verizon respect Huawei's investment in research and development by either paying for the use of our patents, or refraining from using them in its products and services."

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In June, Huawei said it 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. The 12 patents that Huawei is alleging patent infringement in the Texas lawsuits include computer networking, video communications and optical transmission.

"Huawei’s lawsuit filed overnight, in the very early morning, is nothing more than a PR stunt," said Verizon spokesman Rich Young, in an email to FierceTelecom. "This lawsuit is a sneak attack on our company and the entire tech ecosystem. Huawei’s real target is not Verizon; it is any country or company that defies it. The action lacks merit, and we look forward to vigorously defending ourselves."

Before filing the lawsuits in Texas, Huawei said it negotiated with Verizon "for a significant period of time, during which the company provided a detailed list of patents and factual evidence of Verizon’s use of Huawei patents."

While Verizon isn't a Huawei customer, the Chinese company previously 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. Huawei's patent infringement lawsuits could ripple out to include vendors that Verizon uses, as well as other U.S. service providers that also rely on those same vendors.  

Huawei had been granted more than 87,805 patents globally, with more than 11,152 U.S. patents. Since 2015, Huawei has received over $1.4 billion in patent licensing revenue.

Aside of a few small telcos, Huawei hasn't had much of a presence in the U.S. The U.S. has accused Huawei of being a "back door" for the Chinese government to steal technology and spy on U.S. companies. Last year, Huawei was put on a blacklist to restrict its access to U.S. technology.

Huawei has repeatedly denied the accusations that it's spying for the Chinese government and it has filed comments with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) asking that the FCC not to move forward in designating it as a U.S. national security threat.

With varying degrees of success, the Trump administration has tried to convince other countries, such as Germany, the U.K. and Australia, not to use Huawei's gear for the build out of 5G networks. According to a story by FierceWireless, Vodafone has said it would phase Huawei gear out of its core network across Europe over the next five years.

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