Samsung is definitely no stranger to patent lawsuits. It has been sued left and right by different parties, ranging from your usual patent trolls to Apple, in its most high-profile patent court battle. Now, however, Samsung is facing an attack from an unexpected new foe. Chinese OEM Huawei has filed a lawsuit against Samsung in the US, alleging that the Korean consumer electronics giant has used several of its patents, mostly relating to the use of 4G technology and software, in its smartphones without paying a license fee.
Such patent infringement claims aren’t exactly new, but it isn’t everyday that you here of a Chinese manufacturer suing a giant like Samsung. This act points to the shifting tides in the smartphone market, where Samsung’s superiority is being challenged by new players, both in China and abroad.
In China, Samsung already fell out of the top 5 brands, behind Apple, Xiaomi, Huawei, OPPO, and Vivo. Huawei’s entry in to the US market, directly and via the Nexus 6P and its honor sub-brand, now poses a new threat to Samsung’s, and even Apple’s, market dominance. The march of Chinese smartphone giants to the West, however, has been rather slow. Superstar Xiaomi, for example, has yet to officially bring even one of its smartphones to the US. Part of that snail-paced progress is due different intellectual property laws between the countries. Huawei’s formal lawsuit could just be the opening salvo in that new wave.
To its credit, Huawei’s tone is less antagonistic than most patent lawsuits. Of course, Huawei would very much like Samsung to pony up the licensing fees, but it is also inviting Samsung in a collaboration to “drive the industry forward.” That’s the ideal outcome that Huawei naturally is dreaming of. Samsung, however, is unlikely to stay put, depending on how critical those patents are to its smartphones. Samsung has yet to file a response to Huawei’s claims.