Chinese manufacturer Xiaomi of MIUI fame and (relatively) new VP and former Googler Hugo Barra recently introduced a plug-in controller for its phones that appears to be a blatant ripoff of Kickstarter project Pressy.



Both the Xiaomi product and Pressy give you a choice of actions to perform instantly when plugged into your phone, such as recording a video, taking a picture or turning on the phone's flashlight function. Either product allows you to instantly perform your chosen function without having to unlock your phone.

The problem is that Xiaomi is selling its (alleged, but pretty obvious) knock-off for less than a dollar while a Pressy preorder will set you back $27. In terms of pricing, it's readily apparent that Pressy won't be able to compete with Xiaomi.

Evidently the creators of Pressy failed to secure a patent for their invention (update: Pressy's creators responded to Engadget claiming to have "IP rights" which may or may not refer to a patent), though even if they did, it's often difficult to enforce patents against Chinese companies aside from possibly getting imports of the infringing product banned in the U.S. With no patent, however, Xiaomi's actions are legal, though that fact doesn't make them morally right.

In China the Xiaomi product will apparently be called the MiKey but Hugo Barra took to Google+ to solicit name suggestions for a U.S. version. As you might imagine, there are numerous protests posted in the comments section from those familiar with Pressy. Xiaomi isn't the first to clone Pressy, and its creators have considered legal action against previous copycats.

Update: Responding to an inquiry by Engadget, Pressy's creators said the following:
Though the knock-off versions were anticipated, we did not expect to see it from such a respectable and known company ... We have IP rights for the design and functionality of Pressy, and are considering our next moves to handle the situation."
Sources: Hugo Barra on Google+, Tech in Asia h/t Engadget