Xiaomi faces phone ban in India over Ericsson patent suit

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Smartphone maker Xiaomi faces a key setback in India after some of the company’s devices were temporarily banned by a court in a patent dispute with Ericsson.

The Chinese company may, however, try to diffuse the crisis quickly by negotiating a license for the eight standard-essential mobile patents in the lawsuit with Ericsson.

“India is a very important market for Xiaomi and we will respond promptly as needed and in full compliance with Indian law,” Xiaomi said in a statement. “Also, we are open to working with Ericsson to resolve this matter amicably.”

The company said it hadn’t received an official notice yet from the Delhi High Court, which passed the order.

The court ordered a halt of the sale of Xiaomi products in India until the next hearing of the case. The specific models were not named in the order, which instead referred to products that “include the AMR, 3G and EDGE technology/devices/apparatus as patented” by Ericsson in the suit patents, according to a copy of the order obtained by the IDG News Service.

Ericsson asked Xiaomi to obtain a license to the patents ahead of its entry into India’s smartphone market, but Xiaomi went ahead and launched its products in the country in July this year, and subsequently expanded operations by setting up an Indian subsidiary, according to Ericsson’s submission to the court. It also tied with online retailer Flipkart to exclusively sell its products in the market.

Xiaomi continues to refuse to respond in any way regarding a fair license to Ericsson’s intellectual property on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms, Ericsson said in a statement.

The Swedish company said it had taken legal action as a last resort. “We look forward to working with Xiaomi to reach a mutually fair and reasonable conclusion, just as we do with all of our licensees,” it added. Ericsson has previously sued two other Indian companies, according to reports.

Samsung led India’s smartphone market in the third quarter with a 24 percent market share, followed by Indian player Micromax, according to IDC.

Xiaomi has, however, been making headway in the Indian market, with its products sold out on Flipkart sometimes in a few seconds. A Flipkart spokeswoman said Thursday it has yet to receive an official communication of the court decision, and will continue to abide by the laws of the land and cooperate with authorities where required.

Xiaomi’s Android phones like Redmi 1S were on sale Thursday on Flipkart, with a sale for the Redmi Note scheduled for Dec. 16.

(Michael Kan in Beijing contributed to this report.)

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