RealTime IT News

3Com Steps Into Cisco-Huawei Wrangle

Network equipment maker 3Com filed a motion Tuesday to intervene in the litigation between Cisco Systems and Huawei Technologies, China's largest telecommunications equipment maker.

The motion asked the court to quickly rule on whether the intellectual property used in the newly designed joint venture products was valid and original.

The lawsuit filed by San Jose, Calif.-based Cisco on January 23 against Huawei and its subsidiaries, Huawei America and FutureWei Technologies, claimed that Huawei's Quidway products used proprietary source code from Cisco's IOS software and that the Chinese company also copied documentation and help manuals. 3Com said it hopes to get an opinion soon on whether the new joint venture products are good to go, regardless of how the court eventually rules on Cisco's suit.

Huawei primarily serves Asian carriers, including China Telecom, China Unicom, and SingTel. Santa Clara-based 3Com has teamed with Huawei to create products that will be sold in Asia under the Huawei brand and in the U.S. with the 3Com logo. Huawei's enterprise business, which includes routers and switches, contributed about 5 percent of its 2002 revenue of $2.7 billion.

3Com's move follows a temporary injunction granted last Friday by a U.S. District Court that barred Huawei from using the disputed IP in any of its products anywhere in the world. Huawei had already voluntarily withdrawn the offending Quidway products from the U.S. market, but continues to sell them elsewhere. Huawei spokesperson Susan Etlinger, pointed out that Cisco holds patent on its IOS only in the U.S. and Australia.

"Since the scope of the dispute seemed to be in the U.S. only, the first move was to remove the products from the U.S.," Etlinger told internetnews.com. Huawei has also taken steps to remove the disputed code from all subsequent versions of the product no matter where they intended to sell.

Mark Michael, senior vice president, general counsel and secretary for 3Com, said that removal of the disputed code, which integrates different protocols and increases the operating efficiency of large-scale networks, wouldn't hurt the new products. He said that "the handful" of Huawei employees and consultants who had access to Cisco's source code would not be permitted to work on future versions of the product.

"Huawei is a Chinese company that was conducting its business in accordance with the rules of the road they understood them to be. If they made mistakes, the fact that they promptly acknowledged those mistakes and fixed them is what matters."

Both Cisco and 3Com took the Pollyanna view of the lawsuit's progress. Bruce said that Cisco was "pleased that the court order has resulted in 3Com's recognition of the problems associated with Huawei's products."

3Com's Michael said, "Treatment by the court is rigorous and fair, and I'm delighted to see that there's due process." Moreover, he said, "We're also committed to providing assurance that new products are completely non-infringing. The key thing is that, in the meantime, there's no impediment to Huawei and 3Com doing business."