People’s Daily Huawei-to-Apple Licensing Story Touts “Chinese Dream”


Chinese President Xi Jinping often speaks of the “Chinese Dream,” his vision for the advancement of the country’s development. Intellectual property is an important part of that dream. 

A recent Chinese language article in the People’s Daily celebrated that Huawei received “up to several hundred million U.S. dollars” from Apple last year in patent licensing fees. 

Though there are plenty of reasons to be skeptical of the amount, the piece running in an official government paper is a sign of the importance the country places on IP. 

The articles notes that licensing registration data from China’s State Intellectual Property Office shows that Huawei is licensing 769 patents to Apple, with only 98 patent licenses going the other way. Many of Huawei’s patents are believed to be related to wireless data standards, including GSM and LTE. 

According to the article, Apple likely paid up to several hundred million to the Chinese telecommunications company. This number is based on another estimate of what Apple is paying Ericsson for patent licenses. The People’s Daily story arrives at its number by reasoning that Ericsson and Huawei have similarly sized patent portfolios. 

Though the estimate might be a bit flimsy, it is the article’s message that matters. 

The government has repeatedly said that China needs to move beyond its heavy reliance on manufacturing and move into more innovation-driven endeavors, such as developing technologies that can be licensed to others. Extolling the achievement of Huawei, one of the largest patent filers in the world, is one way to promote the country’s serious intentions about IP. 

The story also expresses the government’s concern about what it sees as a continuing technology gap between China and other countries. One of the market analysts quoted in the piece characterizes the Huawei-Apple licensing deal as the beginning of a trend, with Chinese companies moving away from relying heavily on foreign companies for technology. 

The Chinese word for “counterattack” is used several times to describe this shift, but some subtleties may be lost in translation. 

Whatever the actual value of the Apple-Huawei deal might be, coverage like this highlights China’s emphasis on IP as a part of the “Chinese Dream.”