Huawei defends IP record, seeks more collaboration with Europe

Chinese manufacturer Huawei is continuing its PR drive to forge a better reputation in Western economies, with senior vice president Chen Lifang this week launching a rigorous defence of the firm’s track record in intellectual property (IP) and business collaboration.

Speaking at an EU conference on science and technology in Brussels, Lifang said Huawei had always adhered to a fair and open IP policy and was ready to expand its partnerships with European organisations. With most of its bad publicity originating in the US, Huawei has repeatedly been accused of hacking, cyber-espionage, and being a general security threat.

Due to its close ties to the national government, the company is often implicated in wider disputes with China, and just last month Washington officials expressed concern about an apparent lack of respect for IP from the Asian superpower and its IT sector.

But Lifang this week insisted that, “Huawei respects and protects intellectual property rights (IPR) and is committed to an open IPR licensing system."

She continued, "Since its early years, Huawei has proactively advocated for strong IPR protection. Huawei is one of the first Chinese enterprises to have signed cross-licensing agreements with Western peers. Every year, Huawei pays approximately $300 million in royalties to legitimately use the patented technologies of industry peers.”

Lifang also highlighted the firm’s willingness to license its own patented technologies to Western companies, citing a recent agreement with Spanish firm Teletronic which granted use of Huawei’s core LTE patents.

Huawei’s roots in the enterprise side of the European market may be now be strongly established, but with consumer recognition still work in progress, it seems the manufacturer is focusing on a hearts-and-minds operation to win over trust before establishing a broader influence outside of Asia. As such, Lifang was keen to praise Europe’s progress in technology and emphasise Huawei’s desire for further involvement in the continent.

"Europe has a long history of scientific innovation. Nearly all modern scientific systems started from Europe in one way or another,” she said. “Europe is also home to the world's best talent, educational systems, and scientific research institutes. Most attractive to Huawei is Europe's open scientific research environment and market system…Huawei is committed to contributing to Europe's innovative capabilities.”