China handset makers form alliance to counter patent lawsuits

Erica Yen, Taipei; Steve Shen, DIGITIMES [Friday 30 December 2011]

A number of handset makers in China, including Lenovo, ZTE, TCL, Coolpad and Konka, has formed an alliance in preparation to counter possible patent infringement lawsuits to bring upon by international players, according to industry sources in Taiwan.

According to data compiled by Strategy Analytics, shipments of smartphones in the China market totaled 24 million units in the third quarter of 2011, making China to outperform the US, for the first time, to become as the world’s largest smartphone market.

Viewing the growing market in China, international players such as Apple, Nokia and Microsoft are expected to strengthen the protection of their patents in the market, said the sources, noting that Microsoft has asked companies such as Huawei Device to pay royalties and Nokia has filed patent lawsuits against some makers.

However, the sources pointed out that China-based handset makers are not completely unable to defend themselves, given that Huawei and ZTE have secured a number of patents for wireless communications technologies and many makers are able to develop localized interfaces and even operation systems.

Additionally, China-based telecom carriers and operators of social networking websites have been eagerly launching own-branded smartphone models targeting market segments other than those dominated by international branded players.