It's being reported today that Apple has been found to have violated the design patents of a Chinese device maker and may have to halt sales of its latest iPhones in Beijing, the city's intellectual property authority ruled, handing the U.S. company its latest setback in a pivotal market.
Bloomberg reports today that 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, Apple, whose iconic gadgets helped define the modern smartphone industry, didn't respond to requests for comment.
According to a Chinese publication, "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.
Apple's authorized company in Shanghai has filed a law suit to the IPR court in Beijing requesting to annul the verdict."
No disrespect to the Chinese court, but Apple's iPhone 6 and 6 Plus have absolutely no resemblance to 100C as noted above. Sorry, but the politics of this simply reeks.
Bloomberg noted that "While the decision covers only Beijing, future lawsuits against Apple could take the case as a precedent, potentially influencing the outcomes of litigation elsewhere in China.
Bird and Bird partner and IP specialist Ted Chwu stated that "If the position by the Beijing IP office is upheld and Apple doesn't appeal further, then in theory they wouldn't be able to sell the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus," he said. Sorry, but there are too many "ifs" in this commentary to have any value, and as we noted from a Chinese publication, Apple has already filed an action. If this ruling ever stuck, then every company from outside of China will be targets to protect Chinese OEMs which will most definitely trigger a massive trade war.
Report Update 11:10am PST: Apple released a statement today on the matter as noted by CNBC as follows (Bold type emphasis was added by Patently Apple):
The "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," Apple said in a statement Friday. "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."