Huawei has filed lawsuits in Germany, France and Hungary against rival Chinese infrastructure vendor ZTE over alleged patent and trademark infringement – charges that ZTE strongly denies.
Huawei says ZTE has violated a series of its patents related to data cards and LTE and is illegally using a Huawei-registered trademark on some of its data card products.
"Huawei was compelled to initiate this action in order to protect our innovations and registered intellectual property in Europe," Huawei chief legal officer Song Liuping said in a statement. "Our objective is to stop the illegal use of Huawei's intellectual property and resolve this dispute through negotiation so that our technology is used in a lawful manner."
ZTE said it is "astonished" that Huawei has taken such legal actions. "As a company listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange, ZTE respects and adheres to international intellectual property laws and regulations without reservation, and absolutely rejects that there has been any patent and trademark infringement," the company said in a statement. "ZTE is always willing to negotiate on issues in good faith, but will definitely take vigorous legal action in situations like this to protect its interests and those of its customers worldwide."
Huawei said the lawsuits were filed after ZTE failed to respond to cease and desist letters asking the company to stop violating Huawei's patents and using its trademark without permission.
Huawei claims it tried to conduct cross-patent licensing negotiations with ZTE, but did not receive a "substantive response" from ZTE nor a commitment that the company would stop violating the patents.
Chinese infrastructure vendors have been viewed by their competitors as being lax about intellectual property rights, but Huawei appears to be trying to reverse the long-standing perception. In its announcement of the lawsuit against ZTE, Huawei said it paid $222 million in patent licensing fees in 2010 to legally use other company's patents and technologies. Huawei spent $2.5 billion in research and development costs in 2010.
The lawsuit against ZTE comes just two weeks after Huawei and Motorola Solutions agreed to settle the ongoing suits between the two companies. The settlement included the closing of a dispute over Huawei's trade secrets which blocked Nokia Siemens Networks' acquisition of Motorola's networks business.