181206 Huawei
Image Credit: Reuters

Shanghai (Reuters): Huawei 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.

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. Since then, Huawei - the world’s biggest maker of telecoms network gear - has filed for a Hongmeng trademark in Cambodia, Canada, South Korea and New Zealand, data from the UN World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) shows.

Huawei has a back-up OS in case it is cut off from US-made software, Richard Yu, CEO of the firm’s consumer division, had said earlier this year. The firm, also the world’s second-largest maker of smartphones, has not yet revealed details about its OS.

Its applications to trademark the OS show Huawei wants to use “Hongmeng” for gadgets ranging from smartphones, portable computers to robots and car televisions. At home in China, Huawei applied for a Hongmeng trademark in August last year and received a nod last month, according to a filing on China’s intellectual property administration’s website.

Move to placate consumer concerns

According to WIPO data, the earliest Huawei applications to trademark the Hongmeng OS outside China were made on May 14 to the EU Intellectual Property Office and South Korea, or right after the US flagged it would stick Huawei on an export blacklist.

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.