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Xiaomi has previously been rather evasive regarding details about bringing its smartphones to the US, but it appears that plans are finally kicking into gear. Speaking on Thursday, CEO Hugo Barra stated that the company is stocking up on patents ahead of a US launch, but that any release date could still be more than a year away.

There’s a lot of work to be done ahead of a US launch, including setting up localized customer services, tweaking hardware for the new market and, perhaps most importantly, stocking up on essential patents.

Firstly, Xiaomi needs to secure licenses for essential technologies, such as those contained in communications patents from the likes of Nokia and Qualcomm. Secondly, the company needs patents to protect its own designs and features, which are important to defend itself from copy-cat claims by other smartphone companies.

“if it’s a patent and it’s an essential patent then, of course, it needs to be licensed. Secondly, we’re building our own portfolio of patents, for defensive purposes” – Hugo Barra

Xiaomi is already being sued by Ericsson and the legal cases could stack up if the company were to enter markets where patents are more robustly enforced.

Barra had previously indicated that Xiaomi was considering a US launch at some point, but insisted that the company was focusing on building up infrastructure in the Indian market for now and gave no time frame for an appearance in the US. When pressed for details in his most recent interview, Barra suggested that a launch is “no less than a year away”, which at least gives us a rough idea of what to expect now.

We are still looking at a long road ahead before Xiaomi launches its first smartphones in the biggest Western market. Until then, we will just have to be content with the accessories available in the Xiaomi Store. You can see a snippet of the interview in the video below.

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