The spat between Samsung and Huawei has officially come full circle.
Samsung has sued the Chinese smartphone maker for patent infringements in Beijing’s Intellectual Property Court, just two months after Huawei brought a similar patent suit against Samsung in both the U.S. and China.
The scuffle is significant in that it marks the first high-level legal dispute originating from a Chinese company against Samsung, and the Korean company is refusing to be caught off guard.
It also highlights the growing confidence of Chinese companies wishing to assert their intellectual property rights. Several top U.S. companies have encountered patent issues in the last year, including Apple, who recently lost a ruling (also in Beijing IP Court) against a virtually bankrupt smartphone vendor that claimed to own patents used in the iPhone 6.
Samsung is seeking damages from Huawei to the tune of $161 million yuan for infringements. The Korean company claims Huawei’s high-end smartphone offering, the Mate8, and their Honor brand smartphones overlap with Samsung’s patents.
In the May suit, Huawei claimed Samsung infringed on 4G technologies, operating systems and user interfaces. They did not set a dollar amount for damages, but said their dispute extends beyond China and the U.S. into the global context.
Amid slowing smartphone sales worldwide, Huawei has emerged as the second strongest Android offering after Samsung, sharing a position in the top three with Apple.
As financial pressures gradually squeeze out less competitive players, patents are one of the primary weapons of defense being employed by smartphone vendors. Xiaomi, who have struggled to recapture their early momentum in the Chinese market, recently purchased some 1500 patents from Microsoft for voice communications, multimedia and cloud services.