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Apple Ordered To Halt Sales of iPhone 6, iPhone 6s In China After Patent Rule

Forbes logo Forbes 17-06-2016 Yue Wang, Forbes Staff

A Chinese intellectual property bureau is ordering Apple Inc. to halt the sales of its iconic iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus smartphones in the country, after ruling that the company infringed the patent right of a little-known local device maker.

Beijing Intellectual Property Office ruled that the Cupertino, California-based Apple and its Chinese distributor Zhongfu Telecom infringed the patent of Shenzhen-based Baili, which is suing Apple for copying the exterior design of its 100C cellphone, according to a post on the bureau’s website in May.

© Chinese intellectual property authorities is ordering Apple to halt the sales of iPhone 6 and iPhone...

“Apple's iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus have minor differences from Baili’s 100C. The differences are so tiny that the average customer could not notice. So, this case falls into the patent rights protection category,” the ruling said.

Apple has appealed against the ruling in the Beijing Intellectual Property Court. A company spokesperson says there is no comment on ongoing litigation. A person who answered the phone at Zhongfu Telecom says she is not authorized to comment and declined to transfer the call.

The case marks the latest setback for Apple in China, its second-largest market that accounts for more than 25% of the company’s sales. Last month, the Beijing Municipal High People’s Court ruled that leather-goods maker Xintong Tiandi Technology can keep using the name IPHONE for its wallets, handbags and smartphone cases, after Apple tried for years to stop the company from doing so. In April, Chinese authorities abruptly shut down the company’s iBooks Store and iTunes Movie just six months after they started in the country. Authorities haven’t explained the ban.

Chief Executive Tim Cook has been trying to woo Chinese consumers. He arrived in Beijing in May to meet with Chinese startups, while praising the government’s policies on promoting innovation. Apple also invested $1 billion in Chinese ride-sharing platform Didi Chuxing, as it tries to expand the reach of the company’s services in the country.

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