(Reuters) – Huawei has told Verizon that the U.S. carrier should pay licensing fees for more than 230 of the Chinese telecoms equipment maker’s patents and in aggregate is seeking more than $1 billion, a person briefed on the matter said on Wednesday.
Verizon should pay to “solve the patent licensing issue,” a Huawei intellectual property licensing executive wrote in February, the Wall Street Journal reported earlier. The patents cover network equipment for more than 20 of the company’s vendors including major U.S. tech firms but those vendors would indemnify Verizon, the person said. Some of those firms have been approached directly by Huawei, the person said.
The patents in question range from core network equipment, wireline infrastructure to internet-of-things technology, the Journal reported. The licensing fees for the more than 230 patents sought is more than $1 billion, the person said.
Huawei has been battling the U.S. government for more than a year. National security experts worry that “back doors” in routers, switches and other Huawei equipment could allow China to spy on U.S. communications. Huawei has denied that it would help China spy.
Companies involved, including Verizon have notified the U.S. government and the dispute comes amid a growing feud between China and the United States. The licensing fee demand may be more about the geopolitical battle between China and the United States rather than a demand for patent fees.
Huawei and Verizon representatives met in New York last week to discuss some of the patents at issue and whether Verizon is using equipment from other companies that could infringe on Huawei patents.
Verizon spokesman Rich Young declined to comment “regarding this specific issue because it’s a potential legal matter.”
However, Young said, “These issues are larger than just Verizon. Given the broader geopolitical context, any issue involving Huawei has implications for our entire industry and also raise national and international concerns.”
Huawei and U.S. wireless carriers T-Mobile US and AT&T did not respond to Reuters’ requests for comment. Sprint declined to comment.
The United States last month put Huawei on a blacklist that barred it from doing business with U.S. companies on security grounds without government approval, prompting some global tech firms to cut ties with the world’s largest telecoms equipment maker.
Washington is also seeking the extradition of Huawei Chief Financial Executive Meng Wanzhou from Canada after her arrest in Vancouver last December on a U.S. warrant.
China has since upped the pressure on Canada, halting Canadian canola imports and in May suspended the permits of two major pork producers.
(Reporting by Arjun Panchadar in Bengaluru and David Shepardson in Washington; Editing by Anil D’Silva, Sriraj Kalluvila and Sandra Maler)