Caixin
Mar 21, 2017 05:50 PM
BUSINESS & TECH

Mobike Accused of Stealing Technology

Beijing Mobike Technology Co. Ltd., China's largest bike-sharing company, has been sued by digital lock technology developer Lingling Kaimen, which accuses Mobike of stealing its cellphone-lock technology. Photo: Ma Minhui/Caixin
Beijing Mobike Technology Co. Ltd., China's largest bike-sharing company, has been sued by digital lock technology developer Lingling Kaimen, which accuses Mobike of stealing its cellphone-lock technology. Photo: Ma Minhui/Caixin

(Beijing) — Mobike, China’s leading bike-sharing service provider, has been sued for patent infringement — an intellectual property (IP) controversy similar to that many tech firms in China, including Apple and Qualcomm, have also faced.

Shenzhen-based digital-lock developer Lingling Kaimen accused Beijing Mobike Technology Co. Ltd. of infringing the IP rights of the cellphone-lock technology it owns, and asked the Beijing Intellectual Property Court for damages, Lingling said in a statement on Monday.

Launched in 2016, Mobike allows users to locate its orange and silver bikes through its smartphone app and unlock them by scanning a QR code on the bicycle’s frame. The lock, activated via phones, is a key feature of the service.

Beijing Intellectual Property Court took up the case on March 7, according to the Lingling statement.

"We believe this case is without merit, and we are confident that the legal process will bear this out," Mobike said in a statement."Mobike has always vigorously supported the importance of intellectual property rights," it said.

The bike firm is seeking patents for 15 inventions, including locks, bike frames and engines, but none of them has been officially granted a patent, according to the State Intellectual Property Office, China’s patent authority.

The case might end up influencing Mobike’s operations, which have hundreds of thousands of bicycles in 24 cities in China.

As the defendant, Mobike could still win the case if it proves the patent the plaintiff owns has no significant creativity, Chang Junhu, a patent attorney with Beijing Chofn IP Agency, told Caixin.

Patents have always been important assets of companies, especially technology firms, Chang said.

Last year, chip maker Qualcomm Inc. sued Chinese smartphone maker Meizu Technology Co. Ltd. for unlicensed use of its technology,, asking for 520 million yuan ($75.4 million) in damages. The two sides announced in December they had settled the case.

Earlier this year, technology giant Apple Inc. sued Qualcomm Inc., claiming that the chip maker was charging at least five times more for its patented technology than Apple pays to all the other cellular patent licensors combined. The lawsuit in China is still in Beijing Intellectual Property Court.

China is also working on improving the current patent law by including business models and solutions with “technical characteristics” as potential patent grantees. The new rule will take effect on April 1.

Contact reporter Coco Feng (renkefeng@caixin.com)

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