Huawei Technologies announced on Wednesday that it has filed lawsuits against Korean rival Samsung over alleged patent infringements in the U.S. and China. The dispute mainly relates to Samsung’s alleged unlicensed use of Huawei’s 4G technologies, operating systems, and user interfaces in their smartphones, according to the Chinese smartphone maker.

Although the lawsuit was only filed in courts in the U.S. and China, their dispute is not restricted to these markets, according to Huawei, adding that they are willing to settle the problem with Samsung on a global scale. The Chinese firm didn’t disclose the monetary figure it wants from Samsung.

“Huawei believes that industry players should work together to push the industry forward through open, joint innovation. While respecting others’ patents, we will also protect our own,” said Ding Jianxing, the president of Huawei’s Intellectual Property Rights Department, in a statement.

The Shenzhen-based company has invested heavily in R&D, products, and wireless standards development in recent years, totaling 59.6 billion RMB (US$9.08 billion), or 15 percent of annual revenue, in 2015, according to company financial report.

Samsung’s attitude towards the case is still unclear. In response to an inquiry by Reuter’s, Samsung said only that it would “take appropriate action to defend Samsung’s business interests.”

It’s worth noting that Huawei hasn’t signed any cross-licensing deals with Samsung yet unlike Apple.

To some extent, patent wars underline the escalation of battles between leading smartphone makers. Huawei’s allegation is probably a means to fight competitors for global market share, just like Samsung’s ever-expanding war with Apple.

A report from Gartner shows that Huawei is now the third largest global smartphone manufacturer in terms of global shipment. It beats Apple and Samsung as the No.1 phone maker in China in Q1 this year, according to data from Strategy Analytics.

Patents are useful weapons against competitors. Winners can claim huge financial indemnity or halt the sales of competitor’s products completely. For example, Samsung handed over US$548 million to settle patent disputes with Apple in 2015. Chinese upstart Xiaomi was forced to halt sales of handsets in India after a patent infringement complaint from Ericsson.

Learning from these lessons, Chinese companies are investing heavily in patents. In addition to acquiring some wireless communication technologies from Broadcom, Xiaomi purchased 332 U.S. patents from Intel this February. Lenovo has acquired Motorola, obtaining more than 2,000 patents from Google while striking cross-licensing deals with the latter on 21,000 patents. TCL holds nearly 2,000 mobile patents after merging with Alcatel. Huawei’s case against Samsung marks one of the first intellectual property challenges from a Chinese company against one of the world’s top mobile makers.

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Emma Lee

Emma Lee (Li Xin) was TechNode's e-commerce and new retail reporter until June 2022, when she moved to Sixth Tone to cover technology and consumption. Get in touch with her via or Twitter.

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