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Managing Editor

Cisco sues Huawei over intellectual property

Jan 23, 20033 mins
Cisco SystemsIntellectual PropertyNetworking

Cisco Thursday announced it has filed a lawsuit against Chinese network equipment maker Huawei Technologies and its subsidiaries, claiming unlawful copying of Cisco’s intellectual property.

Cisco Thursday announced it has filed a lawsuit against Chinese network equipment maker Huawei Technologies and its subsidiaries, claiming unlawful copying of Cisco’s intellectual property.

Huawei has emerged recently as a significant low-cost competitor to Cisco. Cisco CEO John Chambers was asked recently about the possibility of Huawei violating Cisco’s intellectual property rights, to which he responded that he had confidence that the Chinese government and World Trade Organization would “do the right thing” to prevent or stop unfair business practices.

Today, Cisco took the offensive. Its suit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, alleges that Huawei unlawfully copied and misappropriated Cisco’s IOS software, including source code, copied Cisco documentation and other copyrighted materials, and infringed numerous Cisco patents.

Cisco seeks remedies to prohibit the continued misappropriation of its intellectual property by Huawei and recover damages resulting from Huawei’s “illegal” actions, the company says. Cisco also served a cease-and-desist letter on Spot Distribution, a Huawei distributor located in the United Kingdom, for distributing Huawei products that copy Cisco’s intellectual property.

 “Huawei has unlawfully copied Cisco’s intellectual property and refused Cisco’s numerous attempts to resolve these issues,” said Mark Chandler, vice president and general counsel for Cisco, in a statement. “As a result, Cisco has no choice but to protect its technology and the interests of its shareholders through legal action.”

In a statement, Huawei said it is consulting with legal advisors to understand and resolve the matter and does not have any comment at this time.

Huawei said that the company and its subsidiaries “have always respected intellectual property rights and have attached importance to safeguarding its own intellectual property rights.” Huawei says it employs 10,000 engineers and spends 10% of revenue to develop its own core technology. “As a responsible corporate citizen, Huawei respects the laws and regulations of each country in which it has operations. Huawei believes in the value of partnership, open co-operation and fair competition and has been implementing such beliefs in practice,” the company states.

Cisco alleges that Huawei copied portions of the Cisco IOS source code and included the technology in its operating system for its Quidway routers and switches. Huawei’s operating system contains a number of text strings, file names, and bugs that are identical to those found in Cisco’s IOS source code, Cisco alleges.

Cisco also claims that Huawei copied extensively from Cisco’s copyrighted technical documentation and included whole portions of Cisco’s text in Huawei’s user manuals for Quidway routers and switches.

In addition, Cisco charges that Huawei copied Cisco’s command line interface (CLI) and corresponding screen displays. “Extensive” portions of Cisco’s CLI and help screens appear verbatim in Huawei’s operating system for its Quidway routers and switches, Cisco asserts.

Lastly, Cisco charges that Huawei is infringing at least five Cisco patents related to proprietary routing protocols and has included these technologies in its Quidway routers and switches.  

Cisco is seeking a preliminary and permanent injunction prohibiting Huawei from using, selling, marketing or distributing versions of their Quidway routers and switches that infringe Cisco’s intellectual property. Cisco also is seeking monetary damages as compensation for Huawei’s misappropriation of Cisco’s intellectual property.

Managing Editor

Jim Duffy has been covering technology for over 28 years, 23 at Network World. He covers enterprise networking infrastructure, including routers and switches. He also writes The Cisco Connection blog and can be reached on Twitter @Jim_Duffy and at

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