Xiaomi Blocked From Sales in India Following Court Order

The World's No. 3 Smartphone Brand Just Ran Into Trouble in a Huge Market

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Smartphones from China's Xiaomi
Smartphones from China's Xiaomi
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Ericsson won a court order blocking the import and sale of Xiaomi Corp. devices in India that it said infringe wireless technology patents.

Xiaomi, and its local e-commerce partner Flipkart.com, can't make, import or sell the devices in question until a Feb. 5 hearing, according to a ruling by the High Court of Delhi. The Chinese smartphone maker began India sales in July, and the country is its biggest overseas market.

The lawsuit follows more than three years of attempts to negotiate licensing for patents with Xiaomi, Ericsson spokesman Gaurav Sharma said in an e-mail. Founded in 2010, Xiaomi's success with low-cost devices running Google Inc.'s Android system has vaulted the company to third place globally in smartphones behind Samsung Electronics Co. and Apple Inc.

"It is unfair for Xiaomi to benefit from our substantial R&D investment without paying a reasonable licensee fee for our technology," Sharma said. "We look forward to working with Xiaomi to reach a mutually fair and reasonable conclusion, just as we do with all of our licensees."

Sharma declined to comment further on details of the legal process. Ericsson is the world's biggest maker of wireless networks.

Ericsson owns eight patents pertaining to wireless technology used in second- and third-generation devices, according to the Dec. 8 order. The injunction covers any Xiaomi devices using those technologies, Justice G.P. Mittal said, without identifying which specific models are included.

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According to Xiaomi's Indian website, smartphones currently offered in the country include the Mi 3, Redmi 1S, Redmi Note and Redmi Note 4G. According to technical specifications supplied on the site, each appears to draw on either 2G or 3G technology. Flipkart lists the Redmi 1S for sale at 5,999 rupees ($96) on its website.

Xiaomi spokesman Tony Wei said he couldn't comment on details of the court order because the company hasn't received it or analyzed it. Wei said by phone he didn't have information on whether all Xiaomi devices are covered by the order.

"Our legal team is currently evaluating the situation based on the information we have," Wei said in an e-mail earlier today. "India is a very important market for Xiaomi and we will respond promptly as needed and in full compliance with India laws."

Xiaomi is open to working with Ericsson to resolve the matter, Mr. Wei said.

Flipkart hasn't received official communication and will work with Xiaomi and authorities as required, Camille Gonsalves, a spokeswoman for the e-commerce company, said by e-mail.

Lei Jun, the founder and chief executive officer of Xiaomi, has set a goal of passing Samsung and Apple in the global smartphone market within a decade.

--Bloomberg News--