Huawei sues Verizon for infringing patents

Feb. 6, 2020
Huawei has filed separate suits in the United States District Courts for the Eastern and Western Districts of Texas alleging that Verizon has infringed 12 of Huawei’s U.S. patents. The Tier 1 service provider called the move “a PR stunt.”

Huawei has filed separate suits in the United States District Courts for the Eastern and Western Districts of Texas alleging that Verizon has infringed 12 of Huawei’s U.S. patents. The Tier 1 service provider called the move “a PR stunt.”

At least five of the patents cover optical communications technology and address such functions as transmitting low-rate and client signals over an optical network and mapping and de-mapping in an optical transport network. These patented technologies, Huawei alleges in the suit filed in the Eastern District Court, are necessary to implement ITU-T G.709 Optical Transport Network (OTN) transmission. Huawei states in the suit that the patented technologies were contributed to the ITU-T to help create Recommendation G.709, with the understanding that Huawei would be willing to negotiate licenses on a nondiscriminatory basis and on reasonable terms and conditions with anyone wanting to build OTN equipment. However, it claims in the suit that Verizon “has made, used, sold, offered to sell and/or imported into the United States systems and/or devices that comply with the G.709 Standard in connection with Verizon’s optical transport network systems” without the necessary licenses from Huawei attached.

Meanwhile, in the Western District Court, Huawei asserts in the second suit that Verizon uses Cisco and Juniper Networks routers and switches that Huawei alleges contain Huawei patented IP in a manner that Huawei asserts violates its patents. The company makes similar claims regarding Verizon’s use of Cisco’s WebEx teleconference technology in its service offerings.

The Chinese communications technology vendor says it took matters to court after it had negotiated with Verizon for what Huawei termed “a significant period of time” (since early February 2019, according to court documents) regarding the possibility of licensing agreements. "We invest heavily in R&D because we want to provide our customers with the best possible telecommunications solutions. We share these innovations with the broader industry through license agreements, said Dr. Song Liuping, Huawei's Chief Legal Officer. "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.”

Verizon released an unattributed statement today in response to the suit. “Huawei’s lawsuit filed overnight, in the very early morning, is nothing more than a PR stunt,” the statement reads. “This lawsuit is a sneak attack on our company and the entire tech ecosystem. Huawei’s real target is not Verizon; it is any country or company that defies it. The action lacks merit, and we look forward to vigorously defending ourselves."

The patent lawsuits come against a background of increasing tensions between the U.S. and Huawei that have seen the U.S. Commerce Department bar U.S. companies from selling technology to Huawei without a special license (see Huawei faces U.S. technology access ban) as well as the Federal Communications Commission label Huawei a threat to national security (see FCC rules USF money can’t be spent on Huawei, ZTE equipment). Huawei has taken the U.S. to court in response to some of these moves (see Huawei sues U.S. over ban on sales to government).

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