Its a shocker for all the Mi fans in India (myself included). The Delhi high court has ordered a ban on importing and selling Xiaomi products in India till February 5, 2015. The ban was ordered in response to a complaint filed by Ericsson for infringement of its Standard Essential Patents (SEP). The patents are allegedly related to AMR (Adaptive Multi Rate) technology (that enhances the range of voice frequency over cellular network), 2G (GSM) and 3G (UMTS or WCDMA) technologies and are licensed under FRAND (Fair, Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory Terms).Following the order, Flipkart will have to stop the sale of all the Xiaomi products (including the recently launched RedMi Note). The launch of Xiaomi’s latest Flagship Mi4 in India is also expected to get delayed. Interestingly, Flipkart has also been implicated in the issue as it is the exclusive retail partner of Xiaomi in India.
Update: Xiaomi has now officially suspended sales in India. On the Mi India official website, Xiaomi has put up a notice titled “A Letter To Indian Mi Fans” which states that they have been forced to suspend sales until a further notice. Registration for RedMi Note on Flipkart has also been closed. However, Xiaomi mobile accessories like Mi Power Bank and Mi In-Ear Headphone (Piston 2) are still available.
Is the ban fair ?The court granted an ex parte injunction to stop the import and selling of Xiaomi products in the country. What an ex parte injunction means is an order that is passed by the court in a hurried manner hearing only one of the parties involved in a case. Such an order is usually passed when there is an urgency for implementation. (I don’t understand why did the Delhi High Court found it so urgent to stop the sale of Xiaomi devices in India.) According to Shamnad Basheer (Legal/economic analyst, Spicyip.com), such an injunction was not needed, especially when these patents might be the same that are involved in another case that Ericsson had earlier filed against Indian smartphone OEMs Micromax and Intex Mobile. Micromax was asked to pay 1% of its selling price as a royalty to Ericsson in another recent judgement by the Delhi High Court. He also argues that granting a hurried ex parte injunction in a case involving patents doesn’t make much sense.
Is the ban temporary or permanent ?Since the outbreak of the news of ban on Xiaomi products in India, there has been a lot of buzz about it on the social media. Everyone wants to know the reason why the ban was imposed and how long will the ban last ? As far as I could understand, the court hasn’t ordered the ban as the final verdict to the patent case filed by Ericsson. The court has only granted an ex parte injunction (although even that is unfair in my opinion) which by definition, is temporary. As I mentioned above, an ex parte injunction is a temporary order that is issued by a court hearing only one of the parties involved in a case. Such an order is applicable till the date of actual hearing of the case when the court listens to both the parties. In this case, the date of hearing is February 5, 2015. So the ex parte injunction will be applicable till February 5. What is means is Xiaomi devices are banned till February 5, 2015.
Xiaomi's ResponseAs the court has ordered the custom officials to not allow any imports by Xiaomi, Manu Jain (Head, Xiaomi India) told NDTV that the company hasn’t received any official notice yet, and their legal team is evaluating the situation based on whatever information they have. He also mentioned that Xiaomi is willing to work with Ericsson in order to resolve the issue.
Update: Hugo Barra, Vice President of the the international unit of Xiaomi, also released a statement on Facebook and Google+ . In his statement, Hugo Bara apologized to the Mi fans in India and promised that the company will do whatever it can to revert the situation.
Ericsson's StatementIn a statement provided to TechCrunch, Ericsson said that Xiaomi has been using their Standard Essential Patents (SEP) in an unfair manner. Ericsson also claimed that it tried to communicate with Xiaomi in this regard several times in the last more than three years but didn’t receive any response and asking for an injunction from the court was the last step that it therefore had to take. The statement further added that the company looks forward to work with Xiaomi to reach mutual reasonable and fair conclusion (which might be a sigh of relief for Mi fans in India).
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