The first round of the court battle betweeen Cisco and Huawei has been decided. But who really won?

June 9, 2003

3 Min Read
Cisco Wins Huawei Injunction

Cisco has won a partial victory in the first round of its lawsuit against Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. But both companies are claiming victory after a federal judge in Texas ruled late Friday afternoon on Cisco’s request for a preliminary injunction against Huawei.

According to court papers, United States District Judge T. John Ward ordered Huawei to stop distributing user manuals or online help files that contain material copyrighted by Cisco. He also ordered the Chinese networking company to stop selling products that use a portion of Cisco’s source code.

"Today's ruling is a significant win for Cisco," said Mark Chandler, vice president and general counsel of Cisco, in a prepared statement. "We are gratified by the serious consideration the Court is giving the issue of protection of intellectual property rights around the world.”

While Cisco got part of what it wanted in the ruling, the court did not go as far as the company would have liked. Specifically, the court refused Cisco’s broader request to bar Huawei from using any of its router software.

“The scope of the requested injunction is too broad,” said Justice Ward in his decision. “Outside of the EIGRP module, the plaintiff has not carried its burden to demonstrate that relief of this nature is appropriate.”

He also refused Cisco’s request to force Huawei to stop using its command line interface (CLI), which Cisco claims has been copied from its own. While Justice Ward ruled that command line interfaces are protected under copyright law in Texas, he again said that not enough evidence was provided to support Cisco’s request.

Despite what appears to be a split decision in the court’s ruling, Cisco officials say the company is not discouraged.

“As we move into the next phase of the case, we look forward to the opportunity, for the first time, to have Huawei's source code reviewed to determine the full extent of the copying and seek appropriate relief," said Chandler in his statement.

Huawei also said it’s pleased with the initial outcome of the case. The company has said in previous court filings that it had already removed the source code and the copyrighted material that Cisco has accused it of copying in its U.S. products before the suit was even filed (see Huawei: Cisco Code Is Gone). The court took this good faith gesture into consideration in its ruling. As a result, Justice Ward concluded that an injunction would have little impact on Huawei.

Huawei said in its statement issued on Friday that the ruling will have no material effect on its future business in the U.S., including the joint venture with 3Com Corp. (Nasdaq: COMS), which was announced back in March (see 3Com Taps Huawei in Enterprise Battle)

“Nothing in the preliminary injunction relates at all to the new versions of the products,” said the company in its statement. “Huawei will continue to move forward with the 3Com–Huawei joint venture and continued investment in research and development.”

Cisco filed its suit against Huawei in January, accusing the Chinese manufacturer of copying large pieces of its source code and its users’ manuals (see Cisco/Huawei Brawl Begins). Cisco claims that Huawei was unlawfully selling these products through its U.S. subsidiary, FutureWei, which is based in Texas.

— Marguerite Reardon, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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