Huawei going on the attack

Over the weekend, ARS Technica reported on Huawei’s most recent patent lawsuit and, this time, they are taking T-Mobile to task. Huawei has asked for a judicial ruling from the East District Court of Texas, concerning whether T-Mobile is following the right rules for using standard essential patents. These rules require such patents to be licensed on a “fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory” basis.[1] However, aside from the story itself, there is a new trend emerging here. As the article points out, it seems as if Huawei's recent wave of litigation marks the end of an era in which Chinese companies are the ones who are always on the defensive in IP disputes.

Indeed, this recent case is not a one-off affair. Huawei already made the news in May, when it emerged that it was pursuing Samsung for infringement of a number of smartphone patents, most of which focus on various implementations of LTE technologies within phones, such as downlink receiving rates. At the time, Ding Jianxing, president of Huawei’s Intellectual Property Rights Department explained: “We hope Samsung will … stop infringing our patents and get the necessary license from Huawei, and work together with Huawei to jointly drive the industry forward.”[2]

As well as an ambition to ‘drive the industry forward,’ as Ding Jianxing describes, there is, of course, another aim here. Huawei has long been hungry to cement itself as the world leader across all of the technologies in which it is active. And it has recognised that strong R&D and protecting its strategy with patents and defence of patents is the only way to pursue successful international expansion. In fact, Huawei has become a classic textbook example of how to embark on such a strategy, and the secrets behind embarking on this approach can be seen in IP data relating to Huawei and how it compares to associated industries or rivals.

Because of this, we decided to compile a white paper to review the data in detail and to get a full insight into what such ‘successful’ patterns look like. But consider, for example, one data point from the report, which shows the extent to which Huawei ramped up its proportion of international patents over the last decade.

Huawei_International_Patenting.pngIt has consistently achieved over 20% for the last ten years, and in fact is almost reaching the 50% mark. We have reached the tipping point where the benefits of all that effort can be realized.

As Di Jin, researcher at IDC told China Daily recently, “A strong patent portfolio is key to rapid international expansion. For Huawei which has poured millions of dollars into research and development, taking Samsung to court can boost its international brand image.”                  2