IP Watchdog has a good post on Qualcomm and its patent fight(s) with Meizu, the Chinese smartphone company.
I do wonder why Qualcomm went to the ITC, Germany, and France, though. It appears little is gained as the Chinese suit is cut and dry and should provide Qualcomm complete relief because Chinese patent law bans exports of infringing items and all of Meizu's phones are made in China. Plus, such possible overkill may add to the sense in China that Qualcomm is acting unfairly based on its market position. Now, I am not sympathetic to Meizu's actions. The Chinese antitrust authorities took two years investigating Qualcomm and carefully crafting a settlement that they believed was fair to domestic smartphone makers. This settlement gave Chinese handset companies far and away the best deal from Qualcomm both in terms of the royalty rates and the base from which the rate is calculated. Plus, all of the other Chinese smartphone makers signed the same deal with Qualcomm that has been rejected by Meizu (Vivo and Oppo signed only weeks after Qualcomm's suits against Meizu). Indeed, Qualcomm has been chopped off at the knees in China and Meizu still wants more. This does not seem very fair.
That said, China does not have to be "fair" to anyone but itself. It is a huge market (the smartphone market is now larger than the rest of the world combined) that cannot be ignored. And yes, it is extremely nationalistic. The government wants to protect its businesses and its people. The rules in China are not complicated, though. Be a friend to China, and you get to participate. And that is what worries me about Qualcomm going after Meizu in the US ITC, Germany, and France. These actions may seem like unnecessary bullying to the Chinese government and antitrust agencies. That could be a serious strategic mistake for Qualcomm, especially given that (at least to my knowledge) Meizu is not currently selling phones in the US, Germany , or France. My advice would have been to heed the Beatles and Let It Be. Let the Chinese litigation work its way through. It moves at light speed anyway and Qualcomm will surely win. Or at least it would have before appearing to become a bully.
Again, I don't have a dog in this fight, but poking China (or Chinese companies) in the eye is never a smart move. Is there something I am missing?
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 based in Beijing. He is a Partner at Porter Hedges LLP, where he manages patent litigation, licensing, and prosecution in China and the US.
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