Hugo Barra Xiaomi -19

Xiaomi’s expansion into India could be thrown off course by a patent spat with telecom infrastructure giant Ericsson.

As reported by The Wall Street Journal, Chinese smartphone star Xiaomi is accused of making unlicensed use of Ericsson’s intellectual property. Siding with Ericsson, the High Court of Delhi has banned the importation and sale of all Xiaomi devices in the country. The decision will be reviewed at a pending hearing to be held on February 5, 2015.

Manu Jain, the Head of Indian Operations for Xiaomi, was hopeful things will improve, saying, “India is a very important market for Xiaomi and we will respond promptly as needed and in full compliance with Indian laws… We are open to working with Ericsson to resolve this matter amicably.”

Ericsson claims to have been trying to get Xiaomi to pay licensing fees for years but to no avail, so this injunction is not without warrant.

Xiaomi only began selling its devices in India in July, and has managed to capture 1.5% of the local smartphone market in Q3. The company, whose international expansion is headed by former Google exec Hugo Barra, is a much larger player in its native China, and made no secret of its ambition to achieve similar success in India.

Unless Xiaomi and Ericsson reach an agreement fast, or Xiaomi somehow manages to obtain a stay on the injunction, the Chinese company’s grand plans for Indian domination could be put on hold. And the timing is not good for Barra & co. India shapes out to be the next big battleground for Android OEMs, with Xiaomi’s Chinese rival OnePlus just launching in the country and a slew of local players, like Micromax, having already staked strong positions.

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