New Chinese Patent Alliance?

by Adam Philipp on January 4, 2012

Chinese alliance
Aims to fight patent lawsuits
By smartphone makers

Chinese smartphone manufacturers, including Lenovo, Coolpad, Konka, TCL, and ZTE have reportedly teamed up to defend themselves against anticipated patent lawsuits from companies like Apple, Nokia, and Microsoft.

The foreign manufacturers plan to increase their share of China’s booming smartphone market, which grew 58% in the third quarter of 2011.  Over 24 million units were sold in China in the third quarter – more than in the US – making China the world’s largest smartphone market

The growth in Chinese demand for smartphones has been driven by the availability of low-cost Android-based models from Chinese brands like ZTE and Huawei.  Chinese internet companies like Alibaba and Baidu also sell Android-based phones.  Smartphones costing the equivalent of only $US 50 are expected to be available in China in 2012..

Earlier market expansions by foreign companies into Europe and Australia led to a series of patent skirmishes that are still being fought, and which have caused allegedly infringing phones to be removed from trade shows and retail shelves in some countries.

Microsoft has reportedly been in licensing negotiations with Chinese telecom company Huawei over products using Android software.  But Huawei, which has not been reported to be a member of the new alliance, has 65,000 worldwide patents of its own.

Microsoft claims that it has already entered into license agreements with more than half of all Android device manufacturers, including Samsung (the world’s leading smartphone maker), HTC, and Compal (which supplies Dell, HP, and Toshiba).  

It’s not clear exactly how the alliance intends to fight against lawsuits by foreign competitors, but efforts may include patent pooling and sharing legal expenses.

The original article is here.

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