Xiaomi beefs up its patent portfolio amid legal troubles in India

Xiaomi applied for over 2,000 patents last year

Xiaomi offices in Beijing

Xiaomi offices in Beijing

As Xiaomi faces a patent battle in India over its smartphones, the fast-rising company is trying to bulk up its patent portfolio in China and elsewhere.

"A lot of people think that Xiaomi doesn't respect technological innovation, and that Xiaomi has no patents," said the company's CEO Lei Jun on Thursday. "I think everyone misunderstands."

During his product announcement revealing a new phone, Xiaomi's CEO said that it had applied for 2,318 patents last year, 665 of them outside of China.

Xiaomi doesn't have much of a patent portfolio, given that it's only been around since 2010. But, said Lei, "When 10 years have passed, I believe Xiaomi will have tens of thousands of patents."

The Chinese company is facing a potential smartphone sales ban in India over an ongoing patent dispute with Ericsson. The Swedish firm alleges that Xiaomi phones infringe its wireless technology, and that it was forced to take legal action after the Chinese vendor failed to reach any licensing agreement with Ericsson.

In response, Xiaomi has said its open to working with Ericsson to reach an agreement.

The legal troubles, however, risk derailing Xiaomi's international expansion, which has been targeting countries across Asia. The company has big ambitions to eventually become the top smartphone vendor in the world within five to 10 years. But analysts have warned that its thin patent portfolio exposes Xiaomi to legal threats from more established tech vendors.

Although the Chinese company has been applying for patents across the globe, its unclear how many of them have actually been granted.

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Michael Kan

IDG News Service
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