There is no end in sight to who is suing who over intellectual property infringement – be that in the U.S. or in China.
Intellectual property, or IP for short, is a rather interesting area of the law, often fraught with strange happenings when someone tries to steal someone other company’s IP and claim it for their own. This is not just a local problem, as in solely based in the United States. You will find IP disputes on a global scale and quite commonly in China.
The latest hot news from China regarding IP infringement involves Huawei, a Chinese equipment manufacturer, which has pointed an irate finger at Motorola for transferring parts of their IP to equipment maker Nokia Siemens Networks in the midst of the sale of their telecom equipment manufacturing division. While this might sound pretty straightforward, it is not.
The whole story is rather confusing, but basically it boils down to when Huawei was trying to negotiate a supply agreement with Sprint, someone ostensibly tried to illegally transfer part of Huawei’s IP. No one is particularly thrilled with any of the legal machinations, but somewhere, buried in the accusations and counter accusations, lies a nugget of truth.
The story goes that the European company bought Motorola’s telecom division within the last year for $1.2 billion. Huawei just about snagged it, but was not able to get a U.S. regulatory approval, even though they had a better offer.
It appears that Huawei had been working together with Motorola since 2000 on a variety of projects that included network cores and radio waves. The American company sold Huawei-made hardware under the umbrella of their own name.
While all that was taking place, Motorola and Huawei inked an agreement to keep Huawei’s IP and their technologies a secret, which only makes sense if you want to stay in business and be competitive. The idea behind the agreement was that Motorola was only going to be involved as reseller. What has happened is that part of that IP was woven into the Nokia Siemens Networks buyout without the permission of Huawei.
You are pretty much going to need a pen and paper to figure out who is related and not related to whom if you want to figure this mess out, but suffice it to say that it appears that Motorola may have stepped in it, so to speak. Here is the sticking point though – Motorola did not offer the Chinese company any guarantees that their IP would be guarded and that nothing would be passed to third parties.
On the other side of the fence, Huawei feels they have sustained commercial damage and launched this recent suit to protect their technologies. It is no wonder they did file an IP infringement lawsuit, as they want to protect their research and development. Any company with over 100,000 workers and over 50,000 patents likely has a right to get touchy about someone stepping on their toes.