Foxconn Technology Group announced yesterday that it was suing a trio of Japanese companies in a US court for alleged patent infringement, in a sign that the maker of Apple iPhones and iPads is moving aggressively to monetise its growing technology base.
The suit against Toshiba Corporation, Funai Electric Company, and Mitsubishi Electric Corporation comes as Terry Gou, Foxconn’s chairman, asked shareholders to be patient while the company diversified its revenue sources, with plans to invest in new businesses such as car electronics and cloud computing.
The lawsuit highlights how Foxconn, also known as Hon Hai Precision Industry, is looking to make money from its growing inventory of patents, related to its electronics manufacturing business. The patents in question cover flat screen displays used in televisions, monitors, notebooks, tablets and smartphones.
Facing pressure from shareholders amid slowing sales, Mr Gou said at Foxconn’s annual meeting: “Please be patient, don’t be in a hurry?.?.?.?I’m also the biggest shareholder, so if it’s bad for Hon Hai, it’s also bad for me.”
Representatives from Toshiba, Funai, and Mitsubishi could not be reached for comment. Foxconn did not say how much it was seeking in damages from the lawsuit, which was filed in the Delaware federal district court.
The company has been seeking ways to expand into sectors outside of manufacturing, where it is dependent on Apple for about half its business.
This week Foxconn and Pegatron, a rival Taiwanese assembler of Apple products, both said they were recruiting workers – a move thought to be related to production of the next round of Apple products. Last year, Foxconn was one of six bidders to win a 4G telecoms licence in Taiwan in a clear sign of plans to diversify.
Foxconn has won business from Japan’s SoftBank and Tesla Motors. It will manufacture a robot for SoftBank and is looking at co-operating with Tesla to make touchscreens for its electric cars. It is also the manufacturer of Amazon’s latest Fire smartphone.
Foxconn’s financial performance has been worse than expected, partly due to lower orders from Apple. It posted a 1.2 per cent rise in revenue last year to T$3.95tn ($132bn), missing a target set by Mr Gou. Net income, however, was up 13 per cent to a record T$107bn, partly because of foreign exchange gains.
There are signs that shareholders are growing restless: a group of global investors including Aviva, Axa, and Calstrs announced this week plans to engage the chairman on questions of transparency, long-term strategy, board composition and the “key man” risk posed by Mr Gou, who founded the company 40 years ago.
Additional reporting by Jennifer Thompson in Tokyo
富士康科技集团(Foxconn Technology Group)昨日宣布，正在向美国一家法院起诉三家日本企业专利侵权。这个迹象表明，这家苹果(Apple) iPhone和iPad的代工制造商正采取积极行动套现其不断壮大的技术根基。
这起诉讼突显富士康——又名鸿海精密(Hon Hai Precision Industry)——正寻求从其不断壮大的与电子制造业务相关的专利库赚钱。本案针对的专利涉及应用于电视机、监示器、笔记本电脑、平板电脑和智能手机等各类产品的平面显示器。