A small British tech company has accused Huawei and Goodix, China’s largest developer of fingerprint sensors for smartphones, of infringing its technology and has launched legal proceedings against the two companies.
WaveTouch, a UK registered and owned company from the Technical University of Copenhagen, has filed complaints against the two Chinese companies in the Düsseldorf District Court, one of Europe’s leading patent courts.
WaveTouch claims that a system designed to improve the accuracy of fingerprint readers under modern smartphone screens has been replicated by Goodix for a range of ultra-thin chips and used in millions of smartphones. He said Huawei had incorporated the disputed chip technology into a number of its smartphones, including the P40 and Mate 40.
Jørgen Korsgaard Jensen, founder of WaveTouch, told the Financial Times: “I have always been very supportive of establishing [a] close and good cross-border relations between Europe and China, because I believe that the mixture of different backgrounds and cultures can create innovative solutions and ideas. Today, the majority of WaveTouch employees are employed in our Shenzhen-based subsidiary and in this context, it saddens me even more to see this kind of behavior that does not respect intellectual property rights.
Huawei and Goodix declined to comment on WaveTouch’s claims. “As an innovation-driven company, we always respect and take the protection of intellectual property seriously,” said a spokesperson for Goodix.
Another patent infringement case brought by Shanghai Sili Microelectronics Technology against Goodix in Beijing was withdrawn this week.
WaveTouch and Goodix have offices located just a few blocks from each other in the software industry base in the Nanshan District of Shenzhen. The two companies operate in the fiercely competitive market for biometric security in smartphones and the ultra-thin chip, which sits between the screen and the battery of a handset, has proven to be a key innovation with around 30 smartphones marketed by Huawei, Xiaomi, One Plus, Oppo, Motorola and Samsung use the technology.
WaveTouch says Goodix and handset makers, including Huawei, have used the technology despite being made aware of the potential patent violation by its law firm Norton Rose Fulbright in January of last year.
WaveTouch, which is licensing its technology, estimates that up to 50 million sensors have been sold using the micro-lens design, which equates to £ 300 million in revenue. “They make gold out of it,” Jensen said.
WaveTouch began developing its “micro-lens” technology for use in smartphone fingerprint sensors placed under smartphone screens in 2017. It filed its first patent application in May 2018 and this filing has entered into in the international filing phase and a Chinese utility model patent application a year later. The patent has been approved by the European Patent Office but is still in the administrative grant phase.
Goodix pioneered its own micro-lens-based technology and filed its own patent in early 2019. WaveTouch alleges that the initial chips used in handsets at this point were not based on the same light absorption system than its own technology. However, a Xiaomi handset launched in November 2019 featured an ultra-thin Goodix chipset which, according to WaveTouch’s legal deposit, was an individual copy of the design detailed in its 2018 patent.
WaveTouch said it initially received a positive response from Goodix when it contacted the company regarding the alleged infringement only to find that Goodix had initiated invalidation proceedings against the UK company’s patent application later in the year. year.