Here’s what the inventor of the water gun that Xiaomi shamelessly copied has to say

Xiaomi-vs-Spyra-Original-Fake

Bilder: Spyra/Xiaomi, Montage: SmartDroid.de

"We now have to see to what extent we can mess with Xiaomi," said Spyra's founder.

Basically, you are always happy when an article gets above-average attention. But more attention also means more eyes to spot any errors or discrepancies.

In this case, it was helpful: Otherwise we probably wouldn’t have noticed that Xiaomi apparently has ripped off a German manufacturer with one of its latest gadgets. The Mijia Pulse Water Gun looks suspiciously like a Spyra model.

I could (and should) have noticed. Even a quick Google search for „electric water gun“ shows that Spyra is not an unknown name in the business, but one of the market leaders – at least in terms of awareness.

Bildschirm­foto-2023-04-21-um-14.59.55

Its first crowdfunding campaign in 2018 raised around half a million euros from almost 3,000 backers. The products will only be on the market regularly from 2020. To protect their intellectual property – to which they have even dedicated a separate subpage – patents have been filed in Europe, USA, Japan and China (1, 2), among others.

Is Xiaomi deliberately taking advantage of small businesses?

„Xiaomi’s product is unfortunately also another technological copy of our innovation. The willingness to appropriate inventions is known to be very common in China,“ said Sebastian Walter, founder and CEO of Spyra, when asked. „We are currently investigating which patents are being infringed, but in any case this is not an innovation at all, but a cheap and direct copy of ours“.

EP_4036514_A1
Excerpt from Patent EP4036514A1 from Spyra

„In this respect, it is of course a bitter pill to swallow that this alleged innovation is also being reported in the German media, when in fact it is product piracy of an innovation that is made in Germany“. Understandable anger.

I also have to admit that I may have been a little too uncritical. Sure, Xiaomi is not exactly known as a source of innovation – hardly possible, given the plethora of products it releases through its numerous subsidiaries. In general, however, the company has built up a trustworthy reputation over the past few years, even in Europe.

„Unfortunately, Xiaomi is of course a huge company and can hardly be stopped when it decides to use its gigantic market power to squeeze a small Munich-based start-up,“ laments Walter.

„We can feel honoured when a tech giant like Xiaomi copies us – but of course the worries outweigh the concerns.“

„In the past, we have had to deal with a lot of imitations. We have often been able to defend ourselves well and obtain import bans, injunctions and sales bans – especially as the copies are often not secure and certified. In each case, Xiaomi did not cooperate with us and did not obtain permission. We now have to see how far we can take Xiaomi“.

„We can feel honoured when a tech giant like Xiaomi copies us – but the worries naturally outweigh the concerns with such brazen product piracy from such a big player in the market.“

We have of course contacted Xiaomi about the piracy allegations, but have yet to receive a response. Should this change, we will update the article accordingly.

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