Update, May 25: Speaking to Korean media, Samsung’s chief of intellectual property Ahn Seong-ho said the company is considering “countermeasures” to Huawei’s charge, including a lawsuit of its own. That’s standard procedure when big companies with rich patent portfolio engage in disputes, and Samsung is quite versed in the art of patent war. The Korean giant is still engaged in a years-long patent war with Apple, even if the two sides agreed to drop all disputes, except for those filed in the US. Oracle vs Google is another example of a high-profile conflict with billions at stake. Will Huawei vs Samsung be the next big patent war?
Original post, May 24: Fair or not, Chinese smartphone makers have a bit of reputation for copying the ideas and designs of the competition, instead of innovating on their own. In a semi-ironic twist, Chinese giant Huawei is now pointing the finger in Samsung’s direction, filing a patent infringement lawsuit against the Korean manufacturer in two courts, one in California and the other in Shenzhen.
While the specific patents involved have yet to be revealed, Hauwei alleges that Samsung has infringed on a number of smartphone patents relating to the “unlicensed use of fourth-generation (4G) cellular communications technology, operating systems and user interface software in Samsung phones.” As a little background, Huawei might be known by consumers for its handsets like the Nexus 6P and Mate 8, but most of its revenue actually comes from its telecommunications infrastructure, where it has been granted over 50,377 patents in total.
According to Huawei, at least some of the patents that Samsung violated are classed as “fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory” – meaning that Huawei offers the license to anyone that requests them for a fair and reasonable price.
Ding Jianxing, the president of Huawei’s Intellectual Property Rights Department, made the following statement about the lawsuit:
Thus far, we have signed cross-licensing agreements with dozens of our competitors. We hope Samsung will respect Huawei’s R&D investment and patents, stop infringing our patents and get the necessary licence from Huawei, and work together with Huawei to jointly drive the industry forward.
Samsung is no stranger to fighting lawsuits, and so it’s hard to say exactly how all of this will turn out. We’ll be to follow up with more details as they unfold.