Bytedance to license Smartisan’s patents for its online education business

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Chinese internet firm Bytedance is expected to license a number of smartphone maker Smartisan’s patents to expand and develop its online education business. The move comes shortly after Bytedance entered the market to take on Tencent-backed education firm Vipkid.

A spokesperson from Bytedance told TechNode that the company aims to use Smartisan’s tech for research and development related to electronic educational devices, without providing further details.

Bytedance first showed an interest in expanding into the online education business in 2017. At an education trade conference it hosted in Beijing, CEO Zhang Yiming said technology and education would be integrated to provide the best solutions and teaching experiences.

The Jinri Toutiao parent company then launched online education platform Gogokid in May 2018. The platform provides 1-on-1 video classes to children aged four to 12, targeting the Tencent-backed education startup Vipkid, which completed a $500 million round of funding in June 2018.

The company is known for its popular short video app Douyin, known as TikTok internationally, and content aggregator Jinri Toutiao.

According to Chinese media, Smartisan stakeholders are yet to make a final decision on the deal.

The agreement highlights Smartisan’s recent financial woes. A Chinese court froze its bank account in late-December after it was unable to pay its debts. Amid rumors of layoffs and the closure of its office in the southwestern city of Chengdu the company stripped 10 executives of their directorships and removed CEO Luo Yonghao as legal representative.

Smartisan has filed a total of 64 patents since 2013, the majority of which relate to electronic devices, including wireless communication equipment, voice-recognition solutions, and a keypad for mobile devices. Also included is a fingerprint scanner, which was later incorporated into the company’s flagship smartphone, the Smartisan R1, announced in May last year.

The smartphone maker stopped filing patents in September 2017.

Apart from Bytedance, smartphone maker Xiaomi and internet security firm Qihoo 360 have been rumored to be in talks with Smartisan to purchase patents.