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With EU planning major patent reform, Huawei says renewed pact shows system is working.
August 25, 2023
Huawei has mounted a defense of the patent licensing system, which currently faces upheaval through a major EU revamp.
The Chinese firm announced Friday it had renewed its cross-licensing deal with Ericsson, replacing the previous pact struck in 2016. The multi-year agreement covers device and infrastructure technologies across 3GPP, ITU, IETF and IEEE standards. The companies have not disclosed financial terms or the length of the arrangement.
Emil Zhang, head of Huawei's European IPR department, said the deal shows patent holders can reach agreement on their own without intervention of a third party.
"Huawei and Ericsson are the main contributors to the telecommunications field for Europe and China, but our customers are all over the world – so this agreement will benefit both companies and will offer a positive impact to global customers by providing further certainties to this industry," he said in an emailed statement.
The EU has proposed a new process for standards essential patent (SEP) licensing that gives the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) the power to review deals and set royalty rates. According to the EU, the current licensing process lacks transparency and predictability and suffers from frequent disputes. It also advantages patent owners and disadvantages SMEs trying to access key technologies, it says.
Under its proposed framework the EUIPO will check the 'essentiality' of patents and be able to impose compulsory licensing in cases where parties can't reach agreement.
The proposal has sparked plenty of debate, including from US experts, who point out that if adopted it will almost certainly affect US patent licensing.
Huawei's Zhang said: "The proposed SEP regulation is inviting the EUIPO to weigh in on SEP negotiations, but this deal between Huawei and Ericsson proves that such deals can be worked out by the companies per se, without even resorting to any third party. Market economy works."
Ericsson has been one of the critics of the reform.
Chief intellectual property officer Christina Petersson described it as a "radical" plan that would upend the EU SEP system. She said the changes would put "one of Europe's key advantages in the global knowledge economy at risk."
"The proposal not only introduces a wide-ranging and experimental system, but it does so without committing the resources and expertise needed to deliver on it."
Huawei says it has struck around 200 cross-licensing deals and expects to reach more in the coming year.
— Robert Clark, contributing editor, special to Light Reading
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