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Huawei hits Verizon with lawsuits alleging patent infringement

The US carrier dismisses the suits as "a sneak attack on our company and the entire tech ecosystem."


Huawei filed two suits against Verizon on Thursday.

Angela Lang/CNET

Huawei on Thursday launched a pair of patent infringement lawsuits against Verizon, alleging the US carrier used 12 of its patents without authorization. The suits were filed in US District Courts for the Eastern and Western Districts of Texas.

The controversial Chinese company is seeking compensation for the use of networking, download security and video communication technologies it says are covered by a dozen patents.

"Verizon's products and services have benefited from patented technology that Huawei developed over many years of research and development," Song Liuping, Huawei's chief legal officer, said in a release. "Huawei is simply asking that Verizon respect Huawei's investment in research and development by either paying for the use of our patents, or refraining from using them in its products and services."

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The company noted that it negotiated with Verizon "for a significant period of time," but couldn't agree on license terms. Huawei's R&D expenditure reached $15 billion (nearly 15% of its annual revenue) in 2018 and it's received more than $1.4 billion in patent license fees since 2015, it said.

Verizon dismissed Huawei's move as "nothing more than a PR stunt" in an email to CNET, and noted that it was filed "in the very early morning."

"This lawsuit is a sneak attack on our company and the entire tech ecosystem," spokesperson Rich Young said. "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."

Last June, Reuters reported that Huawei sought $1 billion in patent licensing fees from Verizon for the use of more than 230 networking-gear patents. In December, it filed a legal challenge against the US Federal Communications Commission after it was barred from a federal subsidy program.

Huawei was added to the US Department of Commerce's Bureau of Industry and Security Entity List in May 2019, following an executive order from President Donald Trump effectively banning the company from US communications networks. The move requires US companies to get a license to do business with Huawei, which faces national security concerns due to its cozy relationship with the Chinese government. Huawei denies any wrongdoing.

First published at 2:14 a.m. PT.
Updated at 3:16 a.m. PT: Adds more detail. Updated at 5:32 a.m. PT: Adds Verizon response.