Chinese phones go global after pushing aside Apple, Samsung -- and why Chinese patents are essential to Chinese companies' success
Many are noting that Chinese handset makers are achieving great success in China. For instance, see here where the following assertion is made:
"Along with other Chinese phone makers such as Huawei and Xiaomi, Chinese brands have surpassed Samsung in China and are encroaching on Apple’s turf. In the coming years, analysts forecast that these cheap Android phones with not-so-cheap features will likely attract more budget-conscious customers in Europe and even in Samsung’s and Apple’s home markets, South Korea and the United States."
Chinese handset makers have indeed been gaining ground for years, but to take the next step, they will need to leverage patents. Not patents in the US or Europe, but patents in China. This will be a necessary step before great success in foreign markets forecasted by the referenced article can be achieved.
Why are Chinese patents needed? Because Apple and Samsung have their US and European patents aimed directly at the Chinese companies for when they are considered a threat. So if the Chinese handset makers encroach on Apple and Samsung's Western markets, it makes sense that they would hit the Chinese companies with all they have in that jurisdiction. Catching up to these behemoths in numbers of patents in the US or Europe is nearly impossible. But the Chinese companies have a secret weapon: China.
As I pointed out here, China has developed in a short time what I believe is the best patent litigation venue in the world for creating market leverage. That is because in less than a year, a party can get an injunction not just on infringing sales in China, but also any products manufactured and exported from China. So the Chinese companies could effectively get a world-wide injunction in less than a year while Samsung and Apple are only beginning the US and European processes. Germany is fast, too, but only protects the German market. A great market, to be sure, but not the proverbial gun to the head that is the Chinese sales and manufacturing market. And I do not imagine that these Chinese companies would have a problem winning in China.
Basically, to be allowed to compete fairly in the business markets in other countries, Chinese companies need to be able to enforce their patents in China. That is, to keep the lawyers at bay, they need to preemptively hire lawyers so that everyone has an interest in avoiding mutual assured destruction.
It is a brave, new world. And that world is more and more revolving around China.
Welcome to the China Patent Blog by Erick Robinson. Erick Robinson's China Patent Blog discusses China's patent system and China's surprisingly effective procedures for enforcing patents. China is leading the world in growth in many areas. Patents are among them. So come along with Erick Robinson while he provides a map to the complicated and mysterious world of patents and patent litigation in China.
Erick Robinson is an experienced American trial lawyer and U.S. patent attorney formerly based in Beijing and now based in Texas. He is a Patent Litigation Partner and Co-Chair of the Intellectual Property Practice at Spencer Fane LLP, where he manages patent litigation, licensing, and prosecution in China and the US.
The ideas and opinions at ChinaPatentBlog.com are my own as of the time of posting, have not been vetted with my firm or its clients, and do not necessarily represent the positions of the firm, its lawyers, or any of its clients. None of these posts is intended as legal advice and if you need a lawyer, you should hire one. Nothing in this blog creates an attorney-client relationship. If you make a comment on the post, the comment will become public and beyond your control to change or remove it.