Sunday, 21 July 2019

It's Huawei or the highway

By Nick Wood, for Total Telecom
Friday 12 July 19

Embattled Chinese kit maker calls for its removal from US blacklist and takes measures in Australia to ward off copycat brands

The ongoing Huawei saga took a surreal and, let's face it, welcome detour this week when it emerged the company's Australian division has been busy trademarking various misspellings of its name. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Australia has approved more than 250 trademark applications from Huawei, and the company has a further 70 pending…

The ongoing Huawei saga took a surreal and, let's face it, welcome detour this week when it emerged the company's Australian division has been busy trademarking various misspellings of its name.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Australia has approved more than 250 trademark applications from Huawei, and the company has a further 70 pending. These include trademarks covering some very questionable interpretations of its name, such as Huawy, Wuawe, and Huawii.

Huawei said in the report that the trademarks will ward off any attempts by imitators that want to apply for patents using a variation on its name. It is standard practice, apparently.

Thing is, these days, imitators are probably aware that an attempt to pass something off as a Huawei invention could land them on a US export blacklist, or see them accused of spying on behalf of the Chinese military. Or both.

In the current climate, they perhaps would be better off trying pull the wool over people's eyes by using copycat brands like Nokier, or Erecssion. Just a thought.

Unscrupulous spelling mistakes could only serve as a distraction for so long though, because there was no getting too far away from the more pressing issue facing Huawei at the moment, namely whether or not it can get its hands on US-made components.

Following President Trump's decision in late June to ease the export ban on Huawei, there was confusion after it emerged that the company was still blacklisted.

Giving a speech at an export and security conference this week, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross tried to clarify the situation, explaining that his department will issue licences to Huawei suppliers provided it doesn't constitute a threat to US national security.

Unhelpfully, there was no explanation as to how it is decided which components are safe and which are not. Ross also said that Huawei will remain on the blacklist.

Huawei chairman Liang Hua said in an Associated Press report on Friday that his company has seen "no tangible change" in its dealings with the US since Trump announced the policy change.

He also called for Huawei to be removed from the export blacklist completely, calling its inclusion "unjust and unfair."

However, with the US not prepared to remove Huawei until the conclusion of trade talks with China, Liang could have to wait for quite a while before that happens.

Here's an idea, maybe Huawei could try to sidestep the restrictions by adopting one of its new Australian trademarks? It's a long-shot, but maybe Wawei is different enough that those stable geniuses in Washington might not spot it.

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