Huawei has announced that it’s suing Verizon for alleged patent
violations, marking the latest twist in the Chinese tech giant’s
adversarial relationship with the US. The lawsuit, filed in the Eastern
and Western district courts in Texas, claims that Verizon is using 12
patents owned by Huawei without authorization.
The patents relate
to network technology, with titles like “Sending Method, Receiving and
Processing Method and Apparatus for Adapting Payload Bandwidth for Data
Transmission.” None of them involve 5G, but a person familiar with the
matter who requested anonymity describes them as crucial to network
functionality. Huawei is the world’s biggest maker of telecoms equipment
and often makes a point of highlighting its R&D expenditure, which
reached almost 15 percent of the company’s revenue in 2018 at $15
“Since 2015, Huawei has received more than $1.4 billion
dollars in patent license fees,” the company says in a statement. “To
date, it has also paid over $6 billion dollars for the legitimate use of
patented technologies developed by industry peers. 80 percent of these
license fees have gone to companies in the United States.”
Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge
products and services have benefited from patented technology that
Huawei developed over many years of research and development,” adds
Huawei’s chief legal officer Song Liuping. “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.”
The dispute between Huawei and Verizon
dates back to last year, with The Wall Street Journal reporting in June
that the Chinese company was demanding payment to license more than 200
patents. The New York Times said licensing fees for these patents could
amount to more than $1 billion.
A person familiar with the
situation tells The Verge that Huawei isn’t demanding a specific sum
because it would need more data from Verizon to work out an estimate,
but it could stretch into hundreds of millions of dollars. Huawei is
focusing on these 12 patents because it has strong evidence that Verizon
is using them and courts prefer to deal with smaller numbers at a time,
the person says.
Verizon didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.