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TECH SPACE
China's Huawei takes rebranding bid to telecoms fair
by Staff Writers
Singapore (AFP) June 20, 2012


Dutch court rules against Apple in Samsung case
The Hague (AFP) June 20, 2012 - A Dutch court ruled on Wednesday that Apple has infringed on a patent held by South Korean rival Samsung and ordered the US computer giant to pay an unspecified amount of damages.

"The court orders that the defendant pay Samsung for the damages it suffered since August 4, 2010 as the result of an infringement on (patent) EP 269," The Hague district court said in its ruling.

Samsung took Apple to court on June 30, 2011 for alleged infringements on four of its 3G, or third-generation telephone technology patents as part of a world-wide legal fight between the companies over alleged patent breaches.

The four infringements before the Dutch court related to certain models of Apple's iPhone and iPads.

Although the court found Apple in breach of one infringement, it cleared the company of the other three complaints.

"Today's ruling confirms that Apple was freeriding on our technological innovation," said Vivian Peters, Samsung's spokeswoman in the Netherlands.

"For us it is a victory," she added.

Apple's senior communications head Alan Hely declined to comment, but repeated the company's official statement that Samsung's products closely resembled those made by Apple.

"We need to protect Apple's intellectual property when companies steal our ideas," the statement said.

Thursday's court judgment was the latest round in the legal battle between the two electronics giants.

Last week, Apple backed off a last-minute request in a San Francisco court to block the US release of Samsung's Galaxy S III model.

China's Huawei Technologies is taking a campaign to transform itself into a global brand and leading smartphone maker to a major telecoms fair which opened in Singapore this week.

The Chinese tech behemoth is the biggest exhibitor at the four-day CommunicAsia expo which it sees as a launchpad for its ambition to challenge Apple and Samsung and target itself at consumers and not just businesses.

Huawei's expansive booth is showcasing its array of mobile devices, including one of its star products the Android-powered Ascend P1, which at 0.31 inches (7.69 millimeters) is slimmer than Apple's iPhone 4S at 0.37 inches (9.3 mm).

But as it sets its sights at industry leaders Apple and Samsung, it faces a difficult task to lure shoppers who have demonstrated a preference for well-established brand names.

"Basically, this CommunicAsia is a very important platform for us to really showcase how we are really committed to driving growth," said Riadi Sugihtani, Huawei's regional chief marketing officer.

"Of course there are some connotations with a Chinese brand, and being Huawei as a brand name of course it's unmistakably Chinese," he told AFP.

"However, through lots of efforts we built the brand. We see that there is a clear improvement as far as acceptance by consumers across different geographies."

Huawei, founded by a former People's Liberation Army engineer, has established itself as a major force in the global telecoms industry where its technology is widely used to build mobile phone networks.

The company is a prime example of leading Chinese firms who are working aggressively to make the transition from being the world's workshop to becoming top brands.

Earlier this year, Huawei also exhibited its range of smartphones at telecoms shows in Barcelona and Las Vegas. But analysts say that pulling off a consumer-focused image reinvention will not be easy.

"If Huawei has their eyes on becoming number one, they definitely have their work cut out for them," said Melissa Chau, a Singapore-based regional research manager with IDC.

"One of the challenges for Huawei is branding which is a long-term endeavour and Huawei hasn't yet shown a lot of significant differentiation and innovation yet that would encourage people to buy their smartphones," she said.

The company sold 20 million smartphones globally in 2011 and is aiming to be the top Android-based smartphone maker by 2015, a position currently held by South Korea's Samsung.

Handset manufacturers are waging a fierce battle to capture the rapidly growing smartphone market.

Gartner, a technology research firm, said Samsung smartphones powered by Google's Android operating software sold 38 million units in the March quarter, handing it back the number-one position from iPhone maker Apple which had sales of 33.12 million.

Samsung and Apple jointly make up 49.3 percent of the smartphone sector, with Nokia trailing badly with a 9.2 percent share, Gartner said.

It said Huawei sold almost 10.8 million mobile phones including smartphones in the March quarter, but did not give a figure for its smartphones alone.

Huawei sold 20 million smartphones worldwide in 2011, according to Sugihtani.

Huawei is also battling an image problem in the broader technology market due to its perceived close ties with the Chinese military and government.

It has recently been blocked from bidding for contracts on Australia's ambitious national broadband project, reportedly due to concerns about cyber-security.

The company has in the past also run afoul of US regulators and lawmakers because of worries over its links with the Chinese military and Beijing -- fears that Huawei have dismissed.

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