Huawei’s patents on 5G means US will pay despite Trump’s ban

09/6 2020 18:30

Huawei, the world’s largest telecommunications equipment vendor, owns the most patents on 5G mobile technology, according to a new study
The company has collected more than US$1.4 billion in licensing revenue, it said in a court filing in its patent dispute with Verizon

Huawei Technologies owns the most patents on next-generation 5G mobile technology, ensuring the Chinese company will get paid despite the Trump administration’s efforts to erase it from the supply chain, according to a new study.

The study by two research firms identified the inventions most closely connected to the 5G standards and found that six companies owned more than 80 per cent – Huawei, Samsung Electronics, LG Electronics, Nokia, Ericsson and Qualcomm, the only US-based company in the group. That may be awkward for US President Donald Trump, whose administration has launched a global effort to shut out Huawei in 5G network roll-outs, accusing the Chinese telecommunications equipment maker of being a security threat. Washington has launched a number of salvoes, including banning the sale of any silicon made with US know-how that is hurting the company’s aspirations to grow in cutting-edge fields.

“Even if they hire some other company to build the 5G infrastructure, they still have to pay the Chinese company because of the intellectual contribution to develop the technology,” said Deepak Syal, director of GreyB Services, a technology research firm that conducted the study with analytics firm Amplified AI.

Identifying how many patents a company holds – and how key they are to the industry standards – will help determine who profits most from 5G technology, which promises to revolutionise developments such as autonomous cars, robotic surgery and connected homes.

The Trump administration’s efforts against Huawei have borne fruit. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co, the main chip maker to Apple and Huawei, is plans to build a plant in Arizona to allay national security concerns and shift hi-tech manufacturing to America. In Britain, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is taking steps to exclude Huawei from its 5G mobile networks by lining up potential replacements.

Industry standards are critical to ensure devices work together and communicate with each other. Technology companies get together to establish those standards and pledge that any relevant patents will be licensed on “fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory” terms.