China's Huawei Technologies, the world's second-biggest maker of network gear, is beefing up its patent portfolio ahead of 5G, the next generation of mobile equipment, its chief executive said on Tuesday.
Huawei, also the world's fourth-largest maker of smartphones, has said it plans to spend $600 million on 5G wireless research and development from 2013 to 2018.
But speaking to reporters at the Mobile World Congress on Tuesday, Huawei Chief Executive Ken Hu said that 5G research spending was likely to rise, without giving specific figures.
Huawei was Europe's seventh-largest patent filer in 2014, up from 13th the previous year, according a report published last week by the European Patent Office (EPO).
It was granted 493 patents by the European agency in 2014. The patents cover many products not just 5G.
5G promises superfast internet speeds, broader network coverage and the capacity to hook up objects to the internet from cars to health monitoring devices, the so-called internet of things. The commercial launch of 5G is expected to begin in 2020.
"We have made quite a large number of technology innovations and breakthroughs," Hu, deputy chairman and rotating chief executive of Huawei, said.
These give Huawei a stronger position in terms of intellectual property, he said.
In the technology industry, where complex products often rely on intellectual property from a wide range of players, including competitors, patents are vital for future patent cross-licensing negotiations with rivals.
The number of relevant patents in specific product categories are a key factor determining the rates different parties pay to license one another's patents. From time to time, such licensing talks fail to reach a deal, leading to patent fights and potentially huge liability payments.
Hu urged cooperation among telecom operators, equipment makers and other industries to agree on a single set of standards for 5G technology to ensure a global market.
© Thomson Reuters 2015