Thursday, 13 June 2019 08:52

Huawei ups ante in US spat, asks Verizon to license patents Featured

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Huawei ups ante in US spat, asks Verizon to license patents Pixabay

In what appears to be an escalation of the row between the US and China, the telecommunications equipment vendor Huawei Technologies has written to American wireless provider Verizon asking it to pay more than US$1 billion to license more than 230 patents that the Chinese company owns.

Reuters cited "a person briefed on the matter" as saying that the patents covered network equipment from over 20 of Huawei's vendors, including big American companies. These vendors would indemnify Verizon, this individual said, adding that some of these vendors had been approached directly by the Chinese firm.

Earlier, The Wall Street Journal reported that a Huawei IP licensing executive had written to Verizon in February, saying it must pay to “solve the patent licensing issue". It said the patents covered core network equipment, wireline infrastructure and IoT technology and could affect some of Verizon's vendors.

The US Government placed Huawei and 68 of its affiliates on its Entity List on 16 May, meaning that the company would have to seek permission to purchase any American components it needed to manufacture its products.

Four days later, Google announced it was cutting off Huawei's access to future updates of Google's Android and Google Play Store.

Huawei, which is now the second biggest smartphone vendor globally after Samsung, uses a customised version of Android on all its smartphones and tablets.

On 21 May, the US Commerce Department eased some of the restrictions until August, allowing Huawei to maintain and update existing networks and handsets.

Officials from Huawei and Verizon are said to have met in New York last week to discuss the licensing issue and find out whether Verizon is using equipment from other companies that would infringe on Huawei's patents.

The Chinese firm, a frontrunner in 5G technology, has more than 1500 patents for the technology, second only to South Korean giant Samsung. Prior to the American ban, Huawei was the leader in the 5G market.

Reuters quoted Verizon spokesman Richard Young as saying he could not comment about the issue as it was "a potential legal matter".

But he added: "These issues are larger than just Verizon. Given the broader geopolitical context, any issue involving Huawei has implications for our entire industry and also raises national and international concerns.”

Contacted for comment, a Huawei spokesperson said the company had nothing further to say.

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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