Less than a year ago, Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi Corp. closed a $1.1 billion round of funding, valuing the company at over $45 billion. While Xiaomi is known for its smartphones, the company also has a number of service-oriented business lines, from mobile gaming and entertainment, to electronic payments. Given the immense valuation of the company, second only to Uber’s $51 billion valuation according to the Wall Street Journal, Envision IP analyzed Xiaomi’s patent portfolio to understand if the company has placed a focus on protecting its patented technology.
Globally, the company owns over 3,800 patents and published applications, with approximately 3,200 patents and applications in China alone. Outside of China, Xiaomi has actively been filing patent applications in Europe (357), the United States (165), Korea (126), Mexico (33), and India (15). Interestingly, while the company owns 126 Korean patents and applications, it owns only 1 published Japanese application.
In the US, Xiaomi owns only 9 issued patents. However, the company has been very active in filing US patent applications in recent years, and currently owns 156 published US patent applications. The US patents and applications cover a wide range of technologies, including touch- and voice-based device control, advanced mobile image editing and photography, remote file storage, customized video playback for smart televisions, device-to-device short range communication, and various mobile operating system and user interface features. Its US portfolio also includes various design patents related to its devices and hardware.
Xiaomi began filing US patent applications in 2013, a few years after the Chinese company was founded in 2010. While the company’s overwhelming patenting focus has been in its own backyard, Xiaomi has been making a concentrated effort to obtain patent protection in other large markets where its brand is becoming increasingly popular. For example, Xiaomi more than doubled the number of US patent applications it filed between 2013 and 2014, from 42 to 110.
The trend of Chinese companies to focus their patenting efforts in their homeland is not uncommon. Companies such as JD.com, Tencent, Alibaba, and Baidu all have significant portions of their global patent portfolios comprised of Chinese patents and applications. That being said, 32% of Alibaba’s patent portfolio and 18% of Tencent’s patent portfolio consists of US patents. Interestingly, Alibaba is the only company in the group of Chinese firms we reviewed that owns the majority of its patents outside of China. Given the current pace of its US patent application filings, we would not be surprised if Xiaomi’s US patent portfolio continues to increase significantly in the coming years.