China’s Huawei Technologies has applied to trademark its “Hongmeng” operating system (OS) in at least nine countries and Europe, in a sign it may be deploying a back-up plan in key markets as US sanctions threaten its business model, Reuters reports, citing data from a UN body.
The move comes after the Trump administration put Huawei on a blacklist last month that barred it from doing business with US tech companies such as Alphabet Inc., whose Android OS is used in Huawei’s phones.
A senior US official on Thursday said Huawei’s clients should be asking themselves if the Chinese firm can meet its commitments given its dependence on US companies.
Huawei – the world’s biggest maker of telecoms network gear – has filed for a Hongmeng trademark in countries such as Cambodia, Canada, South Korea and New Zealand, data from the UN World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) shows.
It also filed an application in Peru on May 27, according to the country’s anti-trust agency Indecopi.
Huawei has a back-up OS in case it is cut off from US-made software, Richard Yu, chief executive of the firm’s consumer division, told German newspaper Die Welt in an interview earlier this year.
The US official, meeting with officials in Europe to warn against buying Huawei equipment for next-generation mobile networks, said only time would tell if Huawei could diversify.
“It is a fair question to ask if one decides to go with Huawei and Huawei continues to be on our entity list, will Huawei be able to actually deliver what it promises any particular client,” Jonathan Fritz, the US State Department’s director for international communications policy, told reporters in Brussels.
Huawei has come under mounting scrutiny for over a year, led by US allegations that “back doors” in its routers, switches and other gear could allow China to spy on US communications.
The company has denied its products pose a security threat.
However, consumers have been spooked by how matters have escalated, with many looking to offload their devices on worries they would be cut off from Android updates in the wake of the US blacklist.
Huawei’s hopes to become the world’s top-selling smartphone maker in the fourth quarter this year have now been delayed, a senior Huawei executive said this week.
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