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Chinese Telecom Manufacturers Face Off In Patent War

Fri, 04/29/2011 - 9:47am
Elaine Kurtenbach, AP Business Writer

SHANGHAI (AP) — Chinese telecommunications equipment maker ZTE Corp. has countered accusations by rival Huawei Technologies of violations of its patent and trademark rights by suing Huawei for alleged infringements of its mobile phone technology.

ZTE said in a statement Friday that it plans to use all legal means to protect its own intellectual property rights. It said it has applied to a court to stop unspecified alleged violations by Huawei of its fourth-generation mobile technology.

"We do not believe patents should be a primary tool for competition. ZTE respects others' intellectual property rights, but never gives up its own intellectual property," it said in a statement on its website.

Huawei filed lawsuits in Germany, France and Hungary this week alleging that ZTE is infringing Huawei patents related to its data card and "Long Term Evolution" technologies. It also says ZTE is using a Huawei-registered trademark on some of its data card products.

Huawei said it decided to sue after first inviting ZTE to join a cross-licensing arrangment for the products.

"Huawei was compelled to initiate this action in order to protect our innovations and registered intellectual property in Europe," the company's 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," Song said.

Photos emailed by Huawei show a ZTE-brand data stick with a flip-out UBS hub that Huawei says is based on its own patented technology. They also show a trademark that Huawei says it has registered for itself.

ZTE did not immediately respond to phoned and emailed requests for comment on Huawei's allegations.

Huawei is one of the biggest makers of network switching gear and reported sales of $28 billion last year. The company says it spent 16.56 billion yuan ($2.5 billion) on research and development in 2010 and another $222 million in patent licensing fees to obtain the right to use patents and technologies of other companies.

Fights over patents and technology are common in the fast-evolving, hypercompetitive telecoms equipment world.

Swedish wireless equipment maker LM Ericsson said earlier this month it is suing ZTE in Britain, Germany and Italy for alleged infringement of several of its patents in handset and network technology.

Ericsson has also asked the courts in those countries to block ZTE from selling mobile phones that contain the alleged patented technology, and some network products.

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