Huawei, pronounced “wah-way,” enjoyed a very successful 2015. The company released a number of successful smartphones, a beautiful Android Wear smartwatch and has gained valuable insight into the Google Nexus project through offering the high-end Nexus 6P device. Huawei’s semiconductor business, HiSilicon, was among the first to release a chipset based around ARM’s new generation Cortex-A72 processor core in the shape of the Kirin 950. Although these are relatively high-profile releases, Huawei generates most of its money through telecommunications infrastructure: it designs and builds the cellular networks that carriers are deploying all over the world. The company has said that it reinvests 15% of its annual revenue – approximately $9.2 billion for 2015 – into the research and development of technologies, typically wireless communications standards and products. Huawei have used their new products in 2015 to tackle the North American market, where the business can still struggle: for example the smallest national carrier, Sprint, refuses to use Huawei infrastructure on privacy concerns. For the smartphone side of the business, Huawei is now one of the largest smartphone sellers in the world and at the end of 2015, stated that it had been granted over 50,000 patents across the world.
This confidence in the business is perhaps one reason why Huawei has announced it has filed lawsuits in both China and the United States against Samsung Electronics, asking for compensation for what it is claiming is unlicensed use of 4G cellular technology, operating systems and the user interface in Samsung’s phones. This is the first time a Chinese manufacturer has filed a lawsuit against Samsung, the world’s largest smartphone manufacturer. For their part, Samsung are no stranger to patent infringement having battled Apple for a number of years in high-profile cases. Ding Jianxing, Huawei Intellectual Property Rights Department’s president, explained in a statement: “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.”
Unfortunately, at this time there are very few details such as the specifics of the claim, although these are sure to be revealed in the coming days and weeks. It is an unusual turn for a Chinese manufacturer to be filing a claim against a competitor manufacturer: usually, the established businesses are filing complaints leveled at the Chinese business not licensing technologies. However, Huawei have been one of the more progressive and innovative manufacturers, keen to establish their global footprint, and have been working hard to build their patent portfolio. Perhaps Huawei is now big enough to be considered part of the establishment?