It’s bad enough for Apple that Chinese phone makers like Huawei, OPPO, and Xiaomi are eating away at its numbers. The problem is compounded when a Chinese regulator orders Apple to stop selling two versions of the iPhone in Beijing.
An IP (intellectual property) bureau in China’s capital city called a stop to iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus sales, saying they looked too much like a smartphone built by a small Chinese company. To which we say: Sure — if you squint a bit and completely ignore the iPhone’s thick antenna lines (which is a big ask for any design purist), the Baili 100C does bear a bit of resemblance to 2014’s iPhones.
But so do a lot of other smartphones by lots of companies that thought a rounded back and a rear camera on the upper-left-hand side were good design choices.
Apple has since appealed the ruling on a design patent held by Shenzhen Baili and said that sales are still ongoing pending a review by Beijing’s IP court. You can read Apple’s statement in full below.
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. 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.
It bears noting the decision only affects iPhone sales within the capital city, but it could set a precedent for future cases across China. Not to mention the decision comes at a time when iPhone sales are expected to fall since the phone’s introduction nine years ago.
Apple is no stranger to facing lawsuits, or facing legal pressure from the Chinese government. Earlier this year, Apple’s iBooks Store and iTunes Movies were banned in China as part of the country’s crackdown on online services owned by foreign firms. In May, the U.S. tech giant lost an IP battle after a court allowed the use of the iPhone trademark on bags, wallets, and other leather goods sold by a Chinese company.