Thursday, September 14, 2023

Huawei and Xiaomi sign patent cross-license agreement

This article was delayed by the fact that I attended a Unified Patent Court hearing in Vienna yesterday (which was really interesting and I'll write about it later). That same day, Huawei and Xiaomi announced a global patent cross-license agreement that covers, among other things, 5G. They provided the following quotes:

Huawei IP chief Alan Fan:

"We are delighted to reach this licensing deal with Xiaomi. This licensing agreement once again reflects the industry's recognition of Huawei's contributions to communications standards and will help us enhance our investment in researching future mobile communications technologies."

Xiaomi IP chief Ran Xu:

"We are glad to reach a patent cross-licensing agreement with Huawei. This shows that both parties recognize and respect each other's intellectual property. As part of our commitment to our values around IP, Xiaomi will, as always, respect IP, seek long-term and sustainable IP partnerships for shared success, drive technology inclusion with IP, and allow more people to benefit from technology."

It was reported a while ago that Huawei had requested a special Chinese proceeding that was not tantamount to infringement litigation, but designed to give the parties valuable guidance so they could strike a deal. That objective has clearly been accomplished.

In December 2022, Huawei already announced an agreement of this kind with OPPO.

Neither Xiaomi nor OPPO can be blamed for the geopolitical aberrations that have effectively forced Huawei out of the handset market. And the vacuum created by those circumstances was an opportunity for device makers anywhere on this planet. But it's also true that Xiaomi and OPPO benefited from that development, and some people would argue that Xiaomi did so to an even greater extent.

While Huawei is an Avanci licensor, Xiaomi is not (and OPPO only for 4G so far, but they can still join 5G and I guess they will sooner or later).

Huawei remains consistent with its approach that IP absolutely must be respected--but not overleveraged.

Last month Huawei also announced a cross-license agreement with Ericsson.

While the EU focuses on complicating the standard-essential patent licensing process (see 1, 2, 3), key market actors such as Huawei continue to work out solutions. EU policy makers should ask themselves how Chinese companies manage to agree on cross-licensing terms with each other in the absence of what the kind of register and FRAND determination proceedings the proposed EU SEP Regulation would put in place in Europe.