Patent Dispute May Halt iPhone Sales in China

Published: June 17, 2016 11:20 PM /


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The Beijing Intellectual Property Office has found Apple to be infringing on the patents of Shenzhen Baili, because the iPhone 6 was too similar to 100C phone created by the Chinese company. As a result, the agency issued an injunction against Apple to halt the sales of iPhone 6 devices. Although this ruling is only binding in Beijing, it may be used as precedent in future cases that may arise across the country.

Apple has appealed the case to a regional tribunal and received a stay on the injunction while the appeal is in progress. For now, iPhone 6 phones are still available for sale as they were before the ruling. "IPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus as well as iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus and iPhone SE models are all available for sale today in China," an Apple representative explained, "We appealed an administrative order from a regional patent tribunal in Beijing last month and as a result the order has been stayed pending review by the Beijing IP Court."

While the potential to lose sales in China could be a serious blow to Apple, Tim Long, an analyst at BMO Capital Markets in New York, doesn't believe the ruling will have any serious effects in the long run. "We believe there have been several prior cases against US companies ruled in favor of local companies by lower courts that were later overturned by higher courts," Long wrote, "We have seen dozens of court decisions banning different smartphone products over the years in many different countries. We are not aware of one ever that has resulted in an actual injunction."

Apple has faced numerous setbacks in China already. In 2012, Apple paid $60 million Proview International Holdings to resolve a dispute over the iPad name. Just last month, Apple lost the exclusive right to sell products with the iPhone name. A Chinese company won the right to use the iPhone label on its wallets and purses. In April of this year, Apple's iBooks and iTunes Movies were shut down by the Chinese government for violating publishing regulations.

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| Senior Writer

I’m a technology reporter located near the Innovation District of Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario.