In a move that GigaOm says is the pot calling the kettle black, Chinese telecom company Huawei is suing Motorola in an attempt to block the sale of the handset maker's wireless networking business to Nokia Siemens Networks. In the suit, filed in a federal district court in Illinois, Huawei argues the sale would involve the transfer of Huawei trade secrets and competitive intelligence.
Motorola and Huawei have worked together on GSM-based 3G networks for 10 years, the story says, so the transfer of Motorola's GSM business to Huawei competitor NSN would arguably "irreparably harm" Huawei. According to the complaint, Huawei wants:
preliminary injunctive relief to prevent such harm pending an arbitration under the agreements, including an order that Motorola and NSN modify their transaction to prevent the transfer to NSN of the portion of Motorola's wireless business related to GSM and UMTS networks until an arbitral tribunal is able to adjudicate the matter.
The irony, according to GigaOm writer Stacey Higginbotham, is not only that Motorola accused Huawei of industrial espionage a mere six months ago, but that this company is relying on its patent portfolio (patent count currently at 49,000) to block the deal, when the case isn't really about patents. Higginbotham writes:
Huawei is not merely a private telecommunications company, it has direct and cultural ties to China's government, and this suit could be an initial test of the IP firepower China has been gathering in the last few years.
As is true of all the intellectual property suits popping up, this one could have huge implications.