January 10, 2015
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It’s hard to believe, but less than a decade ago, Chinese electronic products were often likened to KIRF status, an “affectionate” term coined by the staff at Engadget to describe products from the country that were literal copies of other devices. These days however, big name companies from China such as Xiaomi, Huawei, and Oppo are seeking to change things up and make original, highly competitive products. The products are so original, in fact, that now it seems Western OEMs may be the ones copying the creativity.

Oppo, maker of the Oppo N1 and N3, is none too happy with the new Polaroid Selfie smartphone shown off at CES 2015, which also makes use of a rotating camera module. Take a look at Polaroid’s Selfie…

Polaroid Selfie

Engadget Polaroid Selfie

Polaroid Selfie

PCMag Polaroid Selfie

And its inspiration…

Oppo N1 aa 13

Oppo N1

Oppo N1 aa 15

Oppo N1

The similarity between the two devices cannot be disputed, and it seems Oppo has caught wind about the situation and is none too pleased about it. Here’s what the company had to say about the situation in a statement:

It was recently reported that the Polaroid Selfie smartphone released at the CES 2015 has a remarkably similar design to the patented rotating camera phone OPPO N1. However, OPPO has not licensed the design of the rotating camera to any third parties, nor has us done that in any OEM way. We will continue to keep track of the event and reserves the right to take further legal action.

OPPO is committed to delivering our customers with the most delightful electronic experience that is full of surprises through meticulous designs and smart technology. OPPO holds strong respect to intellectual properties and any innovation of technology and design. Sustainable innovation sits at the core of our business, and has made OPPO being a mostly talked new brand in the mobile industry.

OPPO does not stop here with the rotating camera on N1. An upgraded model, the N3, was launched in late 2014 featuring a motorised rotating ‘selfie’ camera, which could rotate for 206 degrees and makes new shooting modes like auto panaroma possible. Perfect for hands free selfies!

The situation is complicated by the fact that Polaroid appears to have simply rebranded a device called iNew V8, available in the Chinese market, that has been described in several places as an Oppo N1 clone.

inew v8 (2)

Very likely, Polaroid simply contracted iNew for a white label order, which means that Polaroid’s main contribution to the product is the logo on the back. That doesn’t get Polaroid off the hook, of course, it’s just a reminder that things aren’t always what they seem, especially when it comes to small companies eager to get products on the market.

It’s hard to tell if anything substantial will come out of this. Oppo’s threat of “further legal action” leaves room for interpretation and the fact that iNew v8 is selling freely in China and elsewhere suggests that Oppo is already having a hard time enforcing their — potential — intellectual property. It remains to be seen whether or not Oppo will find it worthwhile to pursue Polaroid in the US.

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