Xiaomi violating orders by selling non-Qualcomm phones: What you need to know about Ericsson-Xiaomi legal battle

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Xiaomi India has been embroiled in a legal battle with Ericsson. According to the latest reports, Ericsson has claimed that Xiaomi is violating the Delhi High Court’s order by still selling phones with the MediaTek-based chipsets via a website called www.xiaomishop.com. But Xiaomi’s lawyers have refuted the claim saying that the company has absolutely no stake in the website and in fact some third party is misusing its name.

This issue first surfaced when in early December, a Delhi High Court interim order restrained Xiaomi as well as Flipkart from selling handsets in India as it was infringing on Swedish telecom firm Ericsson’s patents.

The order was passed on the plea of Ericsson that Xiaomi had been violating its eight patents pertaining to AMR, EDGE and 3G technologies in the field of telecommunication. According to SpicyIP, Xiaomi reportedly infringed upon the patents: Standard, Essential Patents (SEPs) which are subject to FRAND (Fair, Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory) terms. It added that these are the same patents on which Ericsson had sued Indian companies such as Micromax, Gionee and Intex. Ericsson having registered patents had all the rights to pull up any company infringing on them.

Ericsson was able to get an ex-parte injunction against Micromax – which means that the other side (here Micromax) did not have chance to presents its case. Ericsson then asked Micromax to produce a huge royalty fee which was to be deposited in the courts.

Ericsson said that it had invited Xiaomi to use its patented technology by obtaining a license, but instead of doing so, the Chinese manufacturer launched its devices in India in July 2014. Ericsson stated that it made attempts for 3 years to get Xiaomi to buy their licenses for products compliant with GSM, EDGE and UMTS/WCDMA.

Xiaomi later announced that it would suspend the sale of its smartphones in India, prompting vice president Hugo Barra in putting out a statement to that effect. At the time, Xiaomi was selling the entry level Redmi 1s at Rs 5,999 and the Redmi Note 3G at Rs 8,999. Around this time, Xiaomi had already received around 150,000 registrations for the next sale of Xiaomi Redmi Note on Flipkart. There was no way out for Xiaomi but to have talks with Ericsson.

Around Dec 16th, the Delhi High Court allowed Xiaomi to sell and import phones based on Qualcomm chipsets only. This would mean, Redmi Note 3G which ran on MediaTek MT6592 SoC, would be debarred from future sales in India.

The court’s order which allows Xiaomi to sell Qualcomm-based handsets still stands and the next hearing is scheduled for March 18th.

This recent claim by Ericsson regarding sale of MediaTek-chipset sporting Xiaomi handsets has been refuted by Xiaomi. According to India head Manu Jain, the online shop www.xiaomishop.com is not authorised by Xiaomi to sell phones anywhere in the world including India. It is not a Xiaomi entity either. In fact, Jain claims that Xiaomi intends to take legal action against the portal as it has continued selling Xiaomi products despite being requested by the company not to do so. By selling Xiaomi products without their express permission, the web portal is also infringing on Xiaomi’s trademarks according to Jain.

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