Xiaomi Vows to Overcome India Halt After Ericsson Lawsuit

Xiaomi Corp. pledged to continue its India expansion after a patent lawsuit by Ericsson AB forced the Chinese smartphone maker to halt sales in the world’s second-most-populous country.

Xiaomi suspended all sales in India “until further notice” to comply with a Dec. 8 ruling from the Delhi High Court and is considering its legal options, Hugo Barra, a vice president for global operations, said in a note posted last night on Xiaomi’s Indian website. The order blocks Xiaomi and its e-commerce partner Flipkart.com from making, selling, or importing devices that Ericsson says infringe its wireless technology patents, according to court papers.

“Our sincere apologies to all Indian Mi fans!,” Barra wrote. “We have greatly enjoyed our journey with you in India over the last 5 months and we firmly intend to continue it!”

Xiaomi’s sales suspension comes less than five months after it debuted its phones in India, targeting the country as its largest market outside of China. The four-year-old company vaulted to third place in the smartphone market last quarter by selling low-cost devices running Google Inc.’s Android system.

The court order is in effect until a Feb. 5 hearing.

Three Years

The lawsuit follows more than three years of attempts to negotiate licensing for patents with Xiaomi, Ericsson said in an e-mail yesterday.

“It is unfair for Xiaomi to benefit from our substantial R&D investment without paying a reasonable licensee fee for our technology,” the company 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.”

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

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 is open to working with Ericsson to resolve the matter, spokesman Tony Wei said in an e-mail yesterday.

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 yesterday.

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