Protecting your hardware IP in China: Practical experience
While visiting at Lantronix I had a conversation with Daryl Miller, VP of engineering, about the company’s challenges in dealing with protection of their intellectual property (IP). Not to put too fine a point on it, to protect their products from being ripped off by Chinese companies. It’s still the wild and wooly west there when it comes to patent protection.
He made these points:
“1. Patent enforcement in China has slightly improved from terrible to bad (our attorney’s words). This has been our experience as well as that of our patent attorneys.
2. We have had entire products knocked off in China along with the firmware stolen and ‘tweaked’ to show a Chinese business name instead of Lantronix. These businesses have found ways to ‘steal’ our exact PCB artwork from contract manufacturers in the past. Our best efforts have kept these products out of Europe, US, and Japan but trying to control sales within China has not been possible.
3. More recently we have seen products out of China from several companies replicating our XPort. This is in spite of worldwide patent protection including China, Taiwan, etc. So far we have been able to make little impact on this infringement beyond restricting export.
4. One of the best ways to slow this knocking off of products is by using proprietary silicon inside the products.”