Chinese State Patent Troll Absorbed By Smartphone Maker Xiaomi, Adding To Its Patent Hoard

from the but-will-it-come-in-peace? dept

A couple of years ago, we wrote about Ruichuan IPR Funds, which seemed to be a rather odd kind of patent troll -- one that was essentially backed by the Chinese government. Since then, Ruichuan has dropped off the radar in the West, but there have been some important changes in its home country, as reported on the IAM blog:

China's first patent fund is now being run as part of the Xiaomi IP function, IAM can exclusively reveal. When last we reported on the Ruichuan IPR Funds its status was somewhat unclear. The fund's operator, an IP services firm called Zhigu, had apparently been merged with the smartphone company's in-house IP department, but there had been no official word on the move.
Techdirt wrote about Xiaomi -- sometimes called "China's Apple" -- last year. Although it has lost some of its initial shine, it's still a top Chinese company, and one that has global ambitions. As Techdirt readers know only too well, to stand a chance in the West's patent-saturated tech markets, new entrants need a patent portfolio to use as a bargaining counter, and Xiaomi has been busy acquiring one. In June of this year, Bloomberg reported the following:
Xiaomi Corp. bought nearly 1,500 technology patents from Microsoft Corp. in a deal that may smooth potential legal tangles over intellectual property as it pushes beyond China.

The patents cover a range of wireless communications, video, cloud and multimedia technologies, spokeswoman Kaylene Hong said. The acquisition came as part of a broader agreement announced Wednesday with the U.S. software giant, under which Microsoft Office and Skype will come pre-installed on the Chinese smartphone maker devices.
The absorption of Ruichuan IPR Funds by Xiaomi -- which must have taken place with the Chinese government's approval -- is clearly part of the same strategy of bulking up in the patent department as it prepares to expand abroad. The big question is whether Xiaomi is planning to use its new portfolio purely defensively, so that it can sign cross-licensing deals, or whether it will start going on the offense and sue Western companies in their home markets too.

Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter or, and +glynmoody on Google+

Hide this

Thank you for reading this Techdirt post. With so many things competing for everyone’s attention these days, we really appreciate you giving us your time. We work hard every day to put quality content out there for our community.

Techdirt is one of the few remaining truly independent media outlets. We do not have a giant corporation behind us, and we rely heavily on our community to support us, in an age when advertisers are increasingly uninterested in sponsoring small, independent sites — especially a site like ours that is unwilling to pull punches in its reporting and analysis.

While other websites have resorted to paywalls, registration requirements, and increasingly annoying/intrusive advertising, we have always kept Techdirt open and available to anyone. But in order to continue doing so, we need your support. We offer a variety of ways for our readers to support us, from direct donations to special subscriptions and cool merchandise — and every little bit helps. Thank you.

–The Techdirt Team

Filed Under: china, patent trolls, patents, protectionism, smartphones
Companies: ruichuan ipr funds, xiaomi

Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread

  1. identicon
    I.T. Guy, 9 Sep 2016 @ 6:22am

    Patents shouldn't be transferable like that. It's one thing to get them in an acquisition of a company that already owns them, but they shouldn't be able to be sold off.

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter

Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Insider Shop - Show Your Support!

Essential Reading
Techdirt Insider Chat
Recent Stories

This site, like most other sites on the web, uses cookies. For more information, see our privacy policy. Got it

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.