Mobike wins lock patent dispute

An auto parts technician from Shanghai who claimed that the locking system Mobike uses on its shared bicycles infringed on his patent has lost a lawsuit against the company.
Shanghai No 3 Intermediate People's Court on Thursday ruled in favor of Mobike, saying its technical process for unlocking bikes is not the same as the intellectual property held by the plaintiff, identified only as Hu.

"Their technical characteristics and the technical paths of unlocking the bikes are different," judge Shang Jiangang said in announcing the verdict.

She Yifeng, the attorney for Mobike, had argued that the company's unlocking process - which involves a Mobike smartphone app, cloud server and lock controller on each vehicle connected by a wireless signal - is more complicated than Hu's patent.

Hu said he submitted an application to patent his invention for an operation method to unlock bicycles to the State Intellectual Property Office in June 2013, and was awarded the patent in May 2016.

He told a court on Aug 16 that the unlocking procedure he invented involved users' smartphones and the vehicles.

"When a user scans a QR code with a smartphone to unlock a bicycle, the system will compare the image to the one stored in its database to determine if they are identical. If yes, it will signal the controller to unlock the bicycle," he told the court.

He argued that Mobike's lock controlling system has the same technical characteristics as his patent. In April he requested the court to order the company to stop manufacturing shared bikes with such a system, destroy all locks on existing Mobike bicycles and pay 500,000 yuan ($76,300) in compensation.

Mobike's attorney told the court that the first step of the bike-sharing company's unlocking process is when a user scans a QR code on the bike with a smartphone and the system sends an unlocking request to the cloud server.

"The request includes the user data and the information of this bike. Upon receiving the request, the cloud server will check if the user is qualified. The process will stop for any user with a substandard credit record or who does not have enough money in their prepaid account," She said.

If the user is qualified to ride the bike, the cloud server will send a signal to the lock controller on the bike, which will then check if the bike is in good condition to be used, She added. "Bikes that are reported by previous users to be out of order will not be unlocked."

Mobike, which began operating in Shanghai in April last year, has distributed more than 7 million bikes in 160 cities on the Chinese mainland and in Singapore, Japan, the United Kingdom and Italy.

(Source: China Daily)