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Apple Awaits Beijing Court Decision on whether the iPhone 6 Design will be banned in China

1af 88 cover iPhone vs chinese design


In June Patently Apple posted a report titled "Beijing Court Rules that Apple's iPhone 6 Models Violate Chinese Design Patent and may be Banned." At the time the Beijing Intellectual Property Office wrote in its decision that "The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus infringe on Shenzhen Baili's patent rights because of similarities to its 100C phone. The court believes that the outer appearance of Apple's iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus are so similar to the phone, 100C, produced by Shenzhen Baily, that it is difficult for customers to differentiate between the two. The court added that Apple must stop selling the products and providing relative services." Later that day Apple responded by stating: "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." A week later we reported that those who brought the lawsuit against Apple were actually insolvent which made the IP case against Apple a political football and clown act. 


It's now being reported that Apple was in a Beijing Court yesterday to argue that its iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus mobile designs do not copy a Chinese product and should be allowed to be sold on the Chinese mainland.


Yang Anjin, attorney of the Shenzhen-based company, said that it applied for the ban after finding that the iPhone models too closely resemble the 100C. The company had been given a patent for the 100C in July 2014, two months before the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus were issued in China, according to Yang.


The intellectual property office said at the time that the differences are too tiny to be noticed by average consumers, and ordered Apple and a reseller of its products in Beijing to stop selling the two models.


Yang Pu, Apple's attorney, said during the hearing at the Beijing Intellectual Property Court that the design of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus has 13 differences compared with the 100C. "Average consumers can distinguish them easily."


For example, the curvature of the iPhone model's two sides is symmetrical, "which is completely different from the Chinese product," she said. "On this occasion, we don't think we infringed any IP right of the Shenzhen-based company." She added that "It was not reasonable to halt sales of the iPhone models."


The court did not announce a verdict after hearing the case for almost eight hours on Wednesday. The IP dispute is the latest faced by Apple over the design of its products in China.


If the Beijing court is reasonable it will reconsider it's initial decision and have the case dismissed.


If the court decides to be unreasonable, Apple may have to release a new iPhone design in the new year along with other OEM's at the World Mobile Congress which Apple is attending this year, as they can't go on for months without a flagship iPhone design for sale. The situation in China could also sour and Apple's Foxconn plans for a U.S. plant would have to be expedited.


In the end, let's hope that the Beijing Court does the right thing and agrees that the iPhone does not copy the local phone design.


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