Samsung and Apple made the headlines multiple times between 2011 and August 2014 as they were locked in a bitter battle of patent infringement lawsuits. Now, China’s Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. has come forward as the next competitor to have considerable grounds to believe that its technology has been infringed upon by Samsung; And in this endeavour it has started legal proceedings in US and Chinese Courts on the grounds of intellectual property infringement.
Huawei went on to reveal that they are seeking compensation from Samsung for unlicensed use of its 4G cellular communications technology, operating systems and user interface in Samsung phones. Upon the breaking of this news there was a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices (of Samsung fanboys) suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced.
“I feel something terrible has happened.” — Obi-Wan Kenobi, Master Jedi, referring to the lawsuits by Huawei against Samsung
Amidst the patents infringement furore, the President of Huawei’s Intellectual Property Rights Department has extended an olive branch, urging Samsung to work together with them to further consumer technology.
“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.” — Ding Jianxing, President, Huawei Intellectual Property Rights Department.
This lawsuit marks a reversal of roles in China where traditionally, the local firms are accused of copyrights violations and trademark infringements. With headlines constantly warning about the knock-off or counterfeit market in China, where right from smartphones and other consumer goods to even large stores are duplicated openly and unabashedly.
For the smartphone industry however, makers of devices are now witnessing a role reversal as the industry opens up and local manufacturers such as Huawei, Oppo, Vivo and Xiaomi lead with the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 5th highest sales by volume. Apple and Samsung have the 4th and 6th highest spot as they fights to retain grip on what was once their largest market. The only hinderance to these local brands is the difference in IP laws outside China that interfere with their overseas expansion objectives.
Huawei had reportedly invested 15% of its revenue — 59.6 billion RMB (USD 9.2 billion), in research and development and it holds 50,377 patents as of December 31 2015. Samsung on the other hand has invested 14.8 trillion KRW (USD 12.45 billion) in the same endeavour and holds 110,145 patents as of May 2016.
How this fight pans out, has yet to be seen, with both companies being veterans as far as IP lawsuits are concerned, it is a safe bet that this will be a long drawn out battle in the courtrooms that will end in a very un-climatic out of court settlement.