The Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd is a popular Chinese company that has made headway within the Information Communications Technology (ICT) industry across the globe was founded in 1987 by Ren Zhengfei and started as a sales agent with the mission to provide consulting and operational services to most of the enterprise in China and beyond. After a few years, the company got a research center of its own and started doing research and development, this is one of the breaking points of the company. It was initially a private company before it metamorphosed to forming partnerships with other companies. I will be taking you through the
Huawei was initially known in selling Antennas and base stations, but it hit differently and as a shock to the whole world in 2016 when it made its aspiration to overhaul Apple and Samsung is becoming the globe’s No. 1 smartphone maker within the next half-decade. In the words of Richard Yu CEO of Huawei’s consumer business group made in November 2016:
‘’when we announced four years ago that we wanted to sell phones, people told us we were crazy. When we said we wanted to sell 100million phones, people told us we were crazy. We are going to take Apple step-by-step, innovation by innovation’’
Innovation according to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is the means of doing something new that improves a process or service and can also be put as the new solution to a technical problem, these can be protected through Patents as one of the Intellectual Property (IP) Rights. An invention uses technology to solve a specific problem, it could either be a product or a process. Patent on the other hand is a legal document that grants the exclusive right to the use of a patent technology and rewards inventors for their successful technology, in addition to the reward, a patent also tells the world about one’s invention. The criteria to satisfy before obtaining a patent are clearly spelled out in the IP National laws and this varies from country to country, but generally, the TRIPS Agreement provides that an inventor must prove the following:
- That the innovation is new (novelty): this simply means that the technology should not be known in the body of existing knowledge at the time of filing of the patent, a patent cannot be granted to something that’s already publicly known as it would be unfair to confer the economic benefits of a patent in relation to something that’s already known publicly.
- The innovation must be industrially applicable: this is to mean that it should be used for business purpose beyond mere theoretical phenomenon. It must also be something practicable and capable of being replicated by another.
- The innovation must involve an inventive step and must not be obvious to someone skilled in the area, if it does, then such process or technology will not be patented.
CHALLENGES FACED BY HAUWEI COMPANY BEYOND INNOVATION
The US under the Donald Trump administration in May 2019 added the Chinese company to the US Department of Commerce Bureau of Industry and Security Entity list thereby placing a ban on the Chinese company for fear that the Chinese government could use the company on Americans. This ban can be traced a far back as 2003 when the Chinese company was accused of stealing intellectual property including from the US-based network hardware maker Cisco which they settled out of court. This however has since not sat well with other firms and organizations who also accused the same Chinese company of stealing their intellectual property.
SECURITY CONCERNS OF THE 5G NETWORK
The controversy surrounding the Chinese Tech company by the Western countries has taken a different dimension with the introduction of the 5th generational 5G network. While countries like Australia has adopted a hard line against the company, the US has still maintain a strong accusation that the company’s rise as a global technological superpower is affiliated with the flow of financial capital through government subsidies of China. Other security threats include:
- The quality of Hauwei’s product represent a significant cyber risk.
- Increase in landscape threats from a cybersecurity perspective.
While countries like the US have considered the Chinese company innovation as a security threat, countries like the UK and Australia have maintained a neutral and pragmatic approach since it had not found evidence of malicious Chinese state cyber activity through Hauwei. Managing the risk to cybersecurity and national security will become more complex in a 5G era but countries who have relied on Huawei in the past and would not want to face a trade war with China will have to live to accept such reality because they would not easily rip off existing 4G infrastructure.