The patent disputes won’t trouble Mobike too much

On September 14, 2017, Shanghai Intellectual Property Court issued the first instance judgement on Hu Tao’s prosecution on Mobike (Beijing) Information Technology co., LTD. (hereinafter referred to as the Mobike) for its infringement of the invention patents. Mobike’s bike lock control system is out of the scope of patent protection and thus it doesn’t infringe the patent right. The court rejected all of the plaintiff’s claims.

So far, the patent dispute claiming for 500,000 RMB involved with codes unlock ends for the moment with the decision that Mobike didn’t commit infringement.

But another two cases about the patent disputes related to shared bikes haven’t yet completely settled. Beijing Intellectual Property Court is still on the further hearing another patent dispute related to unlock technology with Mobike as defendant.

A patent for code unlock

The patent of “an electro mobile control system and its operation method” was filed on 29 June 2013 and authorized on May 4, 2016.

The main feature of this patent is that the two-dimensional code recognizers comprising micro-camera, graphics decoder, the memory and the QR code comparator. When users take picture with miniature camera, QR code will compare image taken by the micro-camera and decoded by graphics decoder with the QR code data storage in the memory and then send it to the controller. When the signal is consistent, the controller will unlock the electro mobile; if not, the controller will have the burglar alarm ringing.

In short, the patent uses a QR code to control the unlock of electro motor.

The plaintiff Hu Tao said, “Mobike company manufactures and leases the Mobike while compared with the plaintiff’s patent, the technical characteristics of the control system of Mobike bike lock are the same as that of the plantiff’s patent right requirement I and III. Thus, Mobike infringes the plaintiff’s patent right and the plaintiff sued Mobike in the court, requesting the court to adjudicate tort and to have the defendant to compensate the plaintiff 500000 yuan.

After the Shanghai Intellectual Property Court heard the case, opinions are that, Mobike lock control system lacked the technique features of “QR code recognizer” and “graphic decoder… link with QR code recognizer” recorded in patent right I and thus Mobike is not the same as the patent. In addition, although the Mobike and patent both have “alarming” function, but they adopt different technologies. Mobike bike lock control system, which is accused of infringement, does not have technical characteristic of “when signals are inconsistent, controller will have alarm ring”. Thus, it is different and inequivalent to the corresponding technical characteristics recorded in the patent right I.

Therefore, the Shanghai Intellectual Property Court has decided that the Mobike bicycle lock control system is out of the protection range of the patent rights.

As the name of patent right III is “operation method of electro mobile control system based on patent right I”, the name limits the device implemented by patent right III should be “electro mobile control system” defined by patent right I.

Shanghai Intellectual Property Court decided, therefore, given that Mobike bike lock control system, the accused infringement product, is out of the protection range of the patent right I and naturally, is out of the protection range of the patent right III.

In conclusion, the Shanghai Intellectual Property Court decides the bike lock control system of Mobike is out of the protection range of plaintiff’s patent right, it didn’t commit infringement and rejects the plaintiff’s claims.

A patent related to “Internet access control”

On March 7, 2017, Shenzhen Yinyuji Technology Corporate lifted administrative remedy and judicial relief for infringement of patent application to the Beijing Intellectual Property Office and Beijing Intellectual Property Court respectively, as Mobike may infringe their patent, and the request has been registered and accepted by Beijing Intellectual Property Office and Beijing Intellectual Property Court.

The patent “temporary user authorization device and method for Internet access control” was applied on December 2, 2013, and authorized on July 6, 2016.

Technology principle is allowing interaction between communication terminal of authorized management with access control system, such as mobile phones or tablets with access control system, and unlock the entrance through authorized management.

It is worth noting that in implementing the techniques, temporary users are required to send ” phone number and permission type” through mobiles or other communication terminals to the access control system.

To put it simply, users at the end of access control system, such as residential users, can allow certain mobile users to come in and out of certain doors during the specified period through setting access control system.

Whereas the bicycle unlocking methods actually is the interaction between mobile and smart locks as well as smart lock control system via the Internet and blue tooth, thus allowing automatic unlock when the locks are not preserved.

In the process, 1) identification. Users scan QR code through APP and identify vehicle. Then user’s phone will send unlock requests to the cloud server and the request contains vehicle identity and user identity. The cloud server receives the request and checks the user information. 2) unlock recognition. If the cloud server determines the request is in line with unlock requirements, then unlock order will be sent to the lock controller; if not, the order won’t be sent. 3) unlock feedback.

After the lock controller receives the lock instruction from the cloud server, the lock controller will determine whether to unlock or not based on its own condition. If the condition is fine, controller will unlock the bike; if not, controller will sent false unlock to cloud server.

Thus, though Beijing Intellectual Property Court has not yet released its judgement of the case, there are some differences in technology between Mobike and the patent.

The core of Mobike is “Internet + bicycle rent”

In terms of sharing bicycles, such as ofo and Mobike, have a complete system including offline and online bike management, user identification, payment settlement and others.

The user experience may be slightly different from whether sharing bikes use smart lock or not, but it has little impact on core service model or business model.

In fact, patents related to the sharing bicycle services such as Mobike and ofo is the invention patent “leasing operation system and methods of the bicycle without fixed docking stations”.

The invention patent “leasing operation system and methods of the bicycle without fixed docking stations” was applied on December 23, 2010 and authorized on October 9, 2013.

Its technical principle are quite similar with the operation mode of current sharing bikes like ofo and Mobike, containing the user terminal (such as mobile phones), bikes equipped with terminals (for example, Mobike bikes with positioning function), operation management platform and bike handling system.

It is important to note that in terms of operation mode of no fixed docking station, the technical scheme is basically the same as the reserved bike use adopted by current sharing bikes like ofo and Mobike. But Gu Tai, the patent holder, hasn’t sued Mobike or ofo yet.

Today, when market pattern of sharing bicycle is basically stable, will Gu Tai, the patent holder, sue Mobike or ofo to court after learning the figures of sharing bikes and the disclosure of relevant case trial about share bike technical principle or scheme? Or will he transfer the patent to a shared bicycle platform?


This article originally appeared in Li Junhui’s personal blog and was translated by Pandaily.

Click here to read the original Chinese article.