Apple’s relationship with China – one of the largest smartphone markets in the world — has been rocky for the past several months due to several issues, but a recent ruling by the Beijing Court removes one of the issues.
Some relief for Apple in China
An IP court in Beijing has overturned a May 2016 ruling which claimed the iPhone maker violated design patents held by a small, no-longer-functioning Chinese company called Shenzhen Baili.
For the world’s biggest brand, this small court ruling is pretty important, as it is no longer considered guilty of copying a design patent for the iPhone 6. According to the verdict reported by the state judicial daily RenminFayuanRibao, the Beijing Court has reversed the Beijing Intellectual Property Office’s decision and recognized that the tech giant has not “infringed the design patent filed by the company Shenzhen Baili.”
The court ruled that the iPhone 6 had features which “completely change the effect of the entire product … and both phones are easily distinguishable in the eyes of consumers.”
What was the case about?
The smartphone maker has long been trying to attract customers in China and has received mixed results so far. iPhones are quite popular in China, but the tech giant has not been doing great due to rising competition from domestic smartphone makers like Huawei, Oppo, Vivo, etc. The U.S. firm is facing difficulties not just from rivals but also from patent-holding entities and government agencies.
The Beijing Intellectual Property Office supported plaintiff Shenzen Baili last year in the 2014 case it filed against the Cupertino-based company for patent infringement. The defunct company claimed that the new design of the iPhone 6 infringed on the design of its own 100C smartphone with its curved edges and rounded corners. The dispute was over the exterior design of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.
Apple was granted a stay on the injunction, pending an appeal, helping it continue sales of the iPhone in the country. Shenzhen Baili’s legal team plans to appeal the ruling.
This is not the first time the iPhone maker has been sued by a Chinese company for allegedly copying patents. There are several other cases against the U.S. firm, including the iPhone trademark and a patent infringement case pertaining to Siri. As of now, there have been comments on the matter from the U.S. firm.