An image of a woman holding a cell phone in front of a Huawei logo displayed on a computer screen. Canada said Thursday it plans to ban the use of China’s Huawei Technologies and ZTE 5G devices to protect national security, joining the rest of the so-called Five Eyes intelligence-sharing network.
Arthur Widak | Nurphoto | Getty Images
Chinese tech giant Huawei announced on Friday that it will license its 5G technology to rival handset maker Oppo to create a new revenue stream after its smartphone business was crushed by US sanctions.
Huawei and Oppo, the world’s fourth-largest smartphone maker, have signed a “global patent cross-licensing agreement covering essential patents for the wireless standard, including 5G.”
Huawei has a huge portfolio of over 100,000 patents worldwide. The company is one of the leading patent holders in 5G technology, the next-generation, ultra-fast mobile internet that is seen as key to underpinning future industries such as artificial intelligence and autonomous cars.
When a new generation of mobile communications technology is developed, so-called global standards have to be created. These are protocols, technical specifications and designs that enable interoperability between 5G networks worldwide and allow smartphones to communicate with these networks.
Industry associations are tasked with creating these, and companies like Huawei will help create them. These companies develop technologies that they then patent. The patents that are critical to the standards of, for example, 4G or 5G are considered a “Standard Essential Patent” or SEP.
Huawei hasn’t been aggressive in monetizing these patents in the past against some of its competitors like Nokia and Ericsson.
In 2019, however, the US used a series of measures, including an export blacklist, to cut Huawei off from the critical semiconductors it needed for its smartphones and some other products. This crushed the company’s smartphone business, which was once number one in the world at the time.
Last year, the Chinese tech giant announced that it would start selling its technology to other companies via patents.
The company previously said it expects to generate $1.2 billion to $1.3 billion in revenue from licensing its intellectual property between 2019 and 2021. Huawei said it met its IP revenue expectations for 2021, but didn’t provide a number.
5G has become a contentious part of the broader technology battle between the US and China. Both nations consider it a critical technology. However, the US has raised concerns that Huawei poses a national security threat and has pressured other nations to ban the Chinese company from their 5G infrastructure. Huawei has repeatedly denied that it poses a national security threat.