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Huawei sues Verizon for patent infringement

By Philip Smith

Chinese firms says US business should pay for using its telecom technologies

In dispute: Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg

Chinese telecom giant Huawei has filed a law suit in the US against mobile phone carrier Verizon over alleged patent infringements.

Huawei claims that Verizon should pay for using a number of telecommunications technologies to which it has patents and for which Verizon has no licence.

FURTHER READING: Four major US carriers to replace SMS with new messaging format

It is an escalation in a long-simmering dispute between the two huge global communications businesses and won’t come as a surprise to Verizon; the two have meet frequently in the US to try and resolve the issue.

“For years we have successfully negotiated patent licence agreements with many companies. Unfortunately, when no agreement can be reached, we have no choice but to seek a legal remedy,” said Song Liuping, Huawei’s chief legal officer. “[Verizon has] benefited from patented technology that Huawei developed over many years of research and development.”

Verizon, though, has dismissed the suit as a PR stunt. “[It is] a sneak attack on our company and the entire tech ecosystem. The action lacks merit,” said a spokesman.

The row is over other companies right to use Huawei’s intellectual property. The firm holds tens of thousands of patents around the world, many relate to technology that is crucial for 3G, 4G and 5G communications.

Huawei says it will continue to target business that use this technology without licence but will not do anything “to hinder the development of human society.”

The action won’t help the deeply strained relations between China and the US, despite the recent trade agreement reached by both sides. Washington constantly blocks Huawei from selling its products in the US, and Washington recently piled pressure on the UK not to use the Chinese firm’s infrastructure as part of its roll-out of a 5G network. The US fears Huawei equipment could be used by the Chinese for espionage or to disrupt communications. Huawei denies this and constantly seeks ways to get itself off the blacklisted.

FURTHER READING: UK gives Huawei limited role in 5G

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