Just a couple of hours ago, it was revealed that Chinese smartphone giant Huawei was bringing suit against Korean rival Samsung over smartphone-related patents. Details were sparse, but the long and short of the breaking story was that Huawei, who invests in and builds out cellular network technology on top of all of their other businesses, was suing Samsung over some of their patents being infringed in Samsung’s smartphones’ operating system and interface, and with Samsung infringing on some of their 4G LTE networking patents. Now, thanks to Bill Plummer, Huawei’s Vice President of Strategic and External Affairs, speaking with Recode, a little bit more information has come to light and made Huawei’s reasoning behind bringing suit against the top dog of the Android world a bit more apparent.
While the exact patents being sued over still went unrevealed, it was confirmed that they are indeed related to both smartphone interfaces and operations, and 4G infrastructure. Even without the nature of Samsung’s infringing conduct being revealed, the reason for the lawsuit is fairly common and makes a lot of sense; Huawei was in talks to license their patented technology to Samsung, Samsung refused to play ball, and the talks eventually fell through. With the option to play nice off the table, the only way for Huawei to make sure that its patents were protected and that they were compensated for the fruits of their multi-billion dollar R&D division’s labor was to bring suit against the infringing party.
Plummer, speaking to Recode on the matter, said that Huawei, as the owner of a large number of patents, had an obligation to ensure that those patents were fairly used and compensated for. This, Plummer said, was “the lifeblood of this industry; that’s what drives openness and innovation.” Huawei’s portfolio of about 50,000 worldwide patents is the result of a staff of 80,000 working tirelessly, costing Huawei somewhere in the area of $9.2 billion per year, making it quite clear why they would jump to defend those patents in a situation like this where they are alleged to have been unduly infringed upon. Huawei did say they will be filing suit in China and the United States but did not lay down any dates or tentative damage amounts or other measures, such as injunctions, as possibilities at this time.