China's Huawei Technologies has slapped Samsung with a lawsuit for allegedly infringing on patents related to cellular communications technologies and software used in its smartphones.
The lawsuits, filed May 25 in District Court for the Northern District of California in the United States and in Shenzhen Intermediate People's Court in China, seek an undisclosed amount of monetary damages from Samsung, according to a statement issued by Huawei.
"As a major holder of standard essential patents relating to cellular networks, Huawei is committed to licensing these patents on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms, but it believes that it is entitled to reasonable compensation from firms that use its technology without such a license," the company said in a statement.
"Huawei believes that industry players should work together to push the industry forward through open, joint innovation," Ding Jianxing, president of Huawei's Intellectual Property Rights Department, said in a statement. "While respecting others' patents, we will also protect our own."
Ding said the company has "actively negotiated with other patent holders in the industry for cross-licensing over the years," and that he hopes "Samsung will respect Huawei's R&D investment and patents, stop infringing our patents and get the necessary license from Huawei, and work together with Huawei to jointly drive the industry forward."
William B. Plummer, vice president of external affairs for Huawei Technologies, told eWEEK that the lawsuits involve patents that protect the "underlying technology that supports the [LTE] connectivity and some of the functionality in the devices."
Plummer said Huawei has invested billions of dollars in the technologies and is filing infringement lawsuits to protect those investments. Huawei has about 160,000 employees globally, including about 79,000 in research and development, he said. The company invested almost $10 billion in R&D alone in 2015, he added.
"If you want to stay ahead, you have got to invest in the technology innovations," said Plummer. "We've invested about $600 million in 5G in the last few years, and that won't exist for a few more years. As a leader in the industry, it's our responsibility to ensure that we are appropriately compensated."
In an email reply to an inquiry from eWEEK, a Samsung spokesman wrote that the company "will thoroughly review the complaint and take appropriate action to defend Samsung's business interests."
Huawei makes smartphones but primarily specializes in telecommunications network components.
The company's smartphone sales have taken off in parts of Europe and Asia, along with those of other Chinese vendors, such as Alcatel (owned by TCL Corp.), ZTE and Xiaomi.
New Gartner global smartphone sales figures for the first quarter of 2016 show Samsung continuing to lead the world with 81.2 million phones sold for a 23.2 percent market share, followed by Apple with 51.6 million iPhones sold for a 14.8 percent share, according to a May 19 announcement. But Samsung's sales were essentially flat compared to the first quarter of 2015, when it sold 81.1 million smartphones for a 24.1 percent market share, and sales were down substantially for Apple from last year's first quarter, when it sold 60.2 million iPhones and had a 17.9 percent market share.
Meanwhile, Huawei had a banner first quarter in 2016, with sales of 28.8 million smartphones, compared to 18.1 million handsets in the same quarter one year prior. Huawei's market share rose to 8.3 percent in the latest quarter from 5.4 percent a year earlier.
In April, Huawei launched its P9 smartphone and the larger P9 Plus in markets around the globe, but not yet in the United States. The handsets feature new dual-lens cameras, long battery life, and biometric fingerprint readers for security and privacy.
The P9 and P9 Plus handsets are built using aerospace-quality aluminum bodies with rounded, diamond-cut edges for high style. The P9 has a 5.2-inch Full HD 1080p touch-screen display and is powered by a Kirin 955 2.5GHz 64-bit ARM-based processor, while the P9 Plus has a 5.5-inch Full HD touch-screen display and the same Kirin CPU. The P9 is fitted with a 3,000mAh high-density battery, while the P9 Plus uses a larger 3,400mAh battery.