It’s ironic that China’s telecom companies are on a patent overdrive. For years now, India’s mobile market has been flooded with cheap Chinese phones, including imitations of iPhones and other high-end devices.
Last year, China ranked third in filing patents after the US and Japan. The country’s two big telecom companies contributed significantly to this—ZTE was No. 2 and HuaweiNo. 4 in international patent filings, according to Reuters. All this comes against the backdrop of patent wars involving the likes of Google, Apple and Samsung. Google bought Motorola’s smartphone business for $12.5 billion drawn by its 17,000 patents soon after Apple and Microsoft picked up Nortel’s 6,000 patents for $4.5 billion.
Intellectual property is a touchy issue globally, but perhaps a climate that was initially conducive to copycats was at least partly responsible for the genuine innovation that seems to be taking place in China now.