Huawei has been spotted nestling in datasets hosted by colourful UN patent body WIPO, but rather than having any sort of dispute, it has been filing a barrow-load of trademarks on the term "Hongmeng" – thought to be the preferred moniker for its homegrown OS.
The embattled Chinese outfit has filed for a Hongmeng trademark in countries such as Cambodia, Canada, Mexico, South Korea and New Zealand, as well as in Europe, WIPO's database shows. The mark will stop competitors using the name on a fat list of goods and services that include everything from "teaching robots" and "fire-extinguishing apparatus", to transducers and, of course, "operating system software".
Meanwhile, Huawei is continuing to fight off its placement on the US's "entity" list, which stops it and other firms on the list from sourcing any American-designed software and componentry. Huawei has since had a reprieve in the form of a 90-day exemption.
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Industry talk of the own-brand mobile OS development goes back to 2016, when the Chinese firm was reported to be hiring developers who once worked at Nokia for a "secret phone OS project", at the time seen as a way to fend off Google attempts to further tighten its grip on Android.
Even The Reg thought it could be a defensive move in case a bolshy Google tried to shut Huawei out... little did anyone suspect that a US government under a president with spun sugar hair would cite national security issues and effectively cause Huawei's Android licence to be pulled once the August exemption expires.
The UK's Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS), meanwhile, is knee-deep in its Telecoms Supply Chain Review – once slated to be available by "spring 2019" (which The Reg notes ends in exactly eight days), but is now on track for publication "in due course". So, er, any month now. DCMS confirmed to The Reg that when it does eventually land, the report will have been bashed about with the redaction stick because of Britain's own security concerns.
Earlier this week, the company – along with other suppliers, network operators and experts – appeared before UK Parliament's Science and Technology Select Committee.
UK to be affected by the US and its Entity list
UK culture secretary Jeremy Wright said yesterday that the US's entity listing "decisions" would affect the UK's in this "hugely interconnected world", and not necessarily because it bought into the the notion of the security risk. Wright told Politico: "If Huawei equipment has a large number of American components in it, and the Americans decide to choke off the supply, that is going to have an influence on whether we think Huawei equipment is good to use or not, regardless of any security concerns."
Just three months ago, Huawei's consumer chief Richard Yu let it "slip" (it was likely no accident) in an interview that the mobile OS was still being developed. Huawei later confirmed that work on the mobe OS had been under way since 2012, when the US first began to probe Huawei and fellow Chinese firm ZTE.
There has been little information on what the software will actually look like.
Google has said that a lack of Android updates after the August exemption expires would be a security risk to consumers – and is reportedly "concerned" about what a Huawei-modified version of Android would look like.
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Earlier this week sources party to convos between the Trump administration and Google told the FT that HongMeng, described by the paper's sources as "hybrid Android" with "more bugs in it", would put Huawei phones "more at risk of being hacked, not least by China".
According to a smartphone supply chain report from New York brokerage firm Rosenblatt Securities cited by China Daily – the English language ideology-emitting limb of China's Communist Party leaders – the company was testing the OS on "one million" mobile devices.
It did not specify where, but claimed such devices were being "shipped", without saying if these were development products or ready for the market. We've contacted the brokers in NY to find out more and contacted Huawei for comment. ®