What are the similarities between Xiaomi, Roborock, and Wyze? You’re correct if you guessed robot vacuum cleaners. And now the three companies are locked in a knock-down, drag-out battle, with Amazon cast as one of the referees. Confused? So buckle up because this is going to be a long one.
First and foremost, you should be aware that we currently only have one side of the story. Wyze’s side of the story is supported by court documents. Wyze has filed a lawsuit against Xiaomi and Roborock, claiming that their joint patent on robot vacuums is invalid.
Companies suing each other over patents isn’t uncommon, but the manner in which this happened is out of the ordinary. Amazon was drawn into the fray along the way.
According to Wyze’s lawsuit, Roborock and Xiaomi contacted Amazon and accused Wyze of infringing on their joint patent with Wyze’s robot vacuum. Amazon was asked by Xiaomi and Roborock to remove Wyze’s listing from the marketplace. Apparently, neither company contacted Wyze before making the decision.
Wyze was contacted by Amazon, who explained the situation and gave it two options: approach the companies and work out a deal, or use Amazon’s Utility Patent Neutral Evaluation Procedure. In the latter case, Amazon hires a skilled patent litigator to review the matter and render a decision.
Wyze will automatically lose if it refuses to participate. Amazon removes the offending product from the marketplace in that case (or if Wyze participated and lost).
Wyze alleges it contacted Xiaomi and Roborock about the matter, but both companies declined to negotiate a resolution or release a copy of the infringement document filed. However, rather than going through the Neutral Evaluation Procedure, Wyze appears to have chosen a different strategy: suing Xiaomi and Roborock.
The lawsuit asserts that the patent in question should be declared invalid. It alleges several instances of prior artwork, implying that the patent is not “new” or “non-obvious.” In the documents, Wyze asks the court to invalidate the patent citing four examples of previous art in its suit, and order Xiaomi and Roborock to withdraw their infringement complaint against Amazon.
Even if Wyze loses in the long run, it may be able to continue selling its vacuum on its own website. That is, until Xiaomi and Roborock file a formal complaint in court. It may appear surprising that this was not the first step, but court procedures can take months or even years, whereas Amazon’s process takes weeks. Going down the latter path may cut Wyze off from a major source of revenue.
While the outcome of the case between Wyze and Xiaomi in the US District Court in Seattle could go either way, the court must be able to show that there is a compelling reason to quash a valid US Patent that has gone through the entire process of being patented.
In the meanwhile, the conflicting Wyze product may remain off the shelves until the case is fully resolved, in accordance with Amazon’s policy on such topics.