It’s about time, the war is over.
Patent laws are incredibly complex and can vary from country to country. Both Samsung and Huawei are two massive companies that have been familiar with this stuff for decades. Samsung has had its share of patent lawsuits against other tech giants such as Apple, but Samsung has also been hit with a couple of suits from Huawei as well. After years of battling against each other in court, both Samsung and Huawei have agreed to settle their disputes going forward—According to Nikkei, which says the settlement was reported in local Chinese media.
Samsung and Huawei have been involved in patent lawsuits for three years now and it will finally come to an end. Back in 2016, Huawei sued the South Korean conglomerate over the use of unlicensed 4G technology. A Chinese court sided with Huawei in this case but they punched back and launched two countersuits against Huawei. Now, both of these companies could have continued fighting in courtrooms but they have decided to settle their issues and walk their separate ways.
According to the reports, through a litigation mediation of the Higher People’s Court of Guangdong Province, Huawei Technologies and Samsung (China) Investment have reached a settlement for a series of infringement disputes related to the standard-essential patents. For the cross-licensing of standard-essential patents worldwide, both the companies have developed a framework of the Patent Licensing Agreement and all the relevant litigations have been resolved. The companies have also started withdrawing their complaints.
The settlement comes as the smartphone industry is facing a number of shifts. Phones are gradually upgrading from 3G to 4G now moving to 5G and some phone manufactures are refusing to accept shipment and now Samsung are struggling to sell their phones to the market because it is already saturated with them already but Huawei has managed to stay on top of their game— its shipments were up 50 percent year over year this last quarter, according to IDC — but Samsung has not. Coupled with being on the losing side of this patent battle so far, there may have been good reason for the company to settle.
Also, suggesting one of the many reasons for the two companies settling now is to due to them wanting to pour more resources into the stagnant smartphone market. Even though Huawei now owns a company-record 17 percent of the market, Q1 2019 marked the sixth straight quarter of declining overall smartphone shipments. Meanwhile, Samsung saw a 10 percent decrease in market share year-over-year.
Much has changed in the meantime in the fortunes of both these companies in China. Once a dominant player in the Chinese smartphone market, Samsung has been reduced to less than 1% market share in the region. During the same period, Huawei has emerged as the largest vendor in China and the second largest vendor globally, posing a threat to Samsung’s hold over the global smartphone market.
The terms of the alleged settlement have not been made public, but it’s believed that they include some sort of cross-licensing patent deal. The patents that are part of the supposed deal include those for basic technologies, with no further specifics mentioned.
The tit-for-tat patent battle escalated for too long in a matter of years, but at least it’s seemingly coming to an end.