Huawei on Thursday filed a lawsuit against US telecommunications operator Verizon, seeking compensation for what it said were infringements of its intellectual property rights.

The Shenzhen-based company, the world's largest provider of telecommunications equipment, said Verizon is using technology that is protected by 12 of its US patents. Huawei alleges it has approached Verizon multiple times to negotiate licensing fees since February 2019 and that it had previously furnished the US telecoms company with a list of patents and evidence, but the two companies were unable to agree on license terms.

The logo of Huawei is seen in Davos, Switzerland on January 22. (Picture: Reuters)

“Verizon’s products and services have benefited from patented technology that Huawei developed over many years of research and development,” said Huawei’s chief legal officer Song Liuping in a statement.

“For years now we have successfully negotiated patent license agreements with many companies,” Song said. “Unfortunately, when no agreement can be reached, we have no choice but to seek a legal remedy.”

Verizon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Patent infringement suits are common in the technology industry. Last month, for example, electronics company Sonos sued Google for allegedly infringing its wireless speaker patents. Apple has also been accused by medical device company Masimo of infringing 10 patents – including those covering ways to measure oxygen levels in blood, and heart rate using light emitters and detectors – in the creation of its smartwatch.

Huawei previously told Verizon that the US carrier should pay licensing fees of more than US$1 billion for more than 230 of the Chinese telecoms equipment maker’s patents, The Wall Street Journal reported in June last year.

In the lawsuit, Huawei alleges that its patented technology is being used in a range of Verizon’s technologies, including infrastructure that facilitates communications through Verizon’s networks.

It also claims that its patented technology is present in certain consumer and enterprise applications that Verizon provides, such as Verizon’s Smart Family app that allows parents to locate and manage their children’s devices, and its One Talk app that provides small and medium businesses with one number for multiple devices that will simultaneously ring when a call comes in.

Huawei is asking for damages as compensation for Verizon’s alleged patent infringement, as well as a ruling that will award it an “ongoing royalty” for the products and services offered by Verizon that Huawei alleges infringe its patents.

The Shenzhen-based company is currently caught in the middle of a tech war between the US and China as it seeks to take the lead in 5G networks globally. Washington has argued that Huawei equipment could be used as a conduit for Chinese intelligence activities, even though the company categorically denies these accusations and insists it would never spy for the Chinese government.

In January 2018, Verizon pulled plans to sell Huawei smartphones, including the new Mate 10 Pro, reportedly under pressure from the US government. This followed fellow American mobile network operator AT&T’s decision earlier the same month not to introduce the Mate 10 Pro to the US market.

Huawei is facing its own legal troubles relating to intellectual property. Last January, it denied charges by US prosecutors that it stole information from T-Mobile’s Bellevue, Washington, headquarters contained in “Tappy,” a robotic phone-testing system, from 2012 to 2014.

The US said it uncovered Huawei email messages showing it offered bonuses to employees for information stolen from companies worldwide. The company has denied any wrongdoing and said it expected to be exonerated in court.