Recently, Mr. Charles Ding, Huawei Corporate Senior Vice President and Chief Representative in the United States spoke publicly about Huawei’s use of Cisco’s intellectual property.
While Huawei’s statements were in a context unrelated to the competitive relationship that Cisco and Huawei have, they nonetheless bear directly on issues that anyone concerned about fair competition in the networking industry ought to be thinking about. Mr. Ding contended that Cisco’s litigation with Huawei in 2003 and 2004 was unjustified. This is the litigation in which Cisco claimed unauthorized use of Cisco’s source code in Huawei products.
Mr. Ding said: “If I remember well, that happened in 2003, when Cisco sued Huawei for intellectual property rights infringement …at that time, Huawei provided our source code of our products to Cisco for review and the results were that there was not any infringement found and in the end Cisco withdrew the case…this is the basic situation of that case.”
When asked, “didn’t Huawei admit that Cisco’s code was in your equipment?”, Mr. Ding stated, “As specifically to the source code, the source code of the issues was actually from a 3rd party partner that was already available and open on the internet.”
In fact, within a few months of filing suit, Cisco obtained a worldwide injunction against sale by Huawei of products including our code for a Cisco-proprietary routing protocol called EIGRP, and Huawei publicly admitted that the code had been used in their products and they pledged to stop. They even said they had removed that code from the products voluntarily prior to the judge’s action. After the injunction was issued, Huawei agreed to an expert review of the balance of its code, above and beyond the EIGRP module. More than a year later, the litigation was indeed concluded. What happened in the interim, how many reports a court appointed expert released, and what was done as a consequence, were all covered by a confidentiality agreement.
Our legal advisers tell us that given Mr. Ding’s statements, we would be justified in releasing the full report. To facilitate the understanding about what actually happened in the litigation and allow Huawei to itself clear up any confusion, we waive any confidentiality requirement for the report and suggest that Huawei itself have the expert’s complete final report put into the public domain. Fair competition, indeed, requires transparency of business practices and a respect for intellectual property rights.
Mark – During the 03-04 time frame, it was very clear to most reasonably intelligent people that Huawei was purposefully copying Cisco in every respect: code, marketing and naming convention. The routers even looked very similar too add insult to injury. While most companies use patent litigation as a sword to stifle innovation or use the expense/distraction of legal action to distract competitors, Cisco does not. This particular case seemed to follow the standard Chinese M.O. of copy and produce at a lower labor rate. I commend Cisco for proper defense of their IP as Cisco has the right balance of fairness – mirrors the overarching culture!
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