Apple Inc. has been making moves to please the dragon but has again run head first into a dispute with the Chinese authorities. A Beijing court has today ruled that the design of iPhone 6 and 6 Plus is very much similar to a local Chinese smartphone brand. It has thus asked Apple to immediately pause the sale of these smartphones in the country.
The infringement lawsuit comes from a lesser-known mobile startup — Shenzhen Baili. The company claims that Apple has infringed on their 100C smartphone design patent.
As reported by WSJ, most of the mobile retail stores in China had already stopped selling the two older iPhone models in the country months ago. Since iPhone is still one of the popular choices among the Beijing crowd, the stores are now selling the ‘s’ series models. In addition to this, Apple is expected to phase out the production of the older models very soon.
Edward Lehman, a Beijing-based patent attorney believes that Apple is fighting a very tough battle with this patent infringement case. It has already failed to invalidate Shenzhen Baili’s patent in court last year. The mobile startup who isn’t known by a single being outside China is trying to accuse a global tech giant of infringing its patents, thanks to the Beijing patent laws. Though, the whole situation is a little overblown as seen by patent analysts and attorneys.
The Chinese smartphone maker, Shenzhen Bali in an earlier statement said that it plans to settle the matter outside court. It further added that,
We believe that a communication with goodwill would contribute to solving potential legal disputes, achieving benign competition and providing better products to customers.
Cupertino however adds that they have already appealed for an administrative order almost a month ago. As a result of the same, the order has been stayed pending review and the iPhone sales will remain unaffected.
China — a developing but challenging market
This is one of the few examples that show the growing challenges of the Western companies in the Chinese mainland. The local manufacturers are maturing into global competitors and thus, regulators want the foreign players to play by their rules.
The aforementioned patent infringement case is also applicable only within the confines of the capital — Beijing.
However, this injunction is just one of the few challenges that Cupertino has to face while expanding in the country. After years of tremendous growth, Apple has registered a decline in iPhone sales in its second largest market after the U.S. Also, local budget smartphone manufacturer’s like Vivo, Xiaomi and LeEco have been stealing the thunder of the American tech giant.
In addition to this, the regulators had also asked Apple to shut down its News application in the country. The iBook and iTunes Movie services were also closed on the grounds of licencing issues. The media censorship policies in mainland China are not only hard to dodge, but also make functioning in the country almost impossible.
Despite its struggles in China, Tim Cook believes that decline in sales doesn’t change his long-term outlook for China. He expects China, which is one of the fastest growing economies to surpass United States in the near future.
He also made a visit to China before visiting India on his second leg of the Asian Tour. Following Cook’s visit, the ministry praised Cupertino’s technological efforts and urged them to expand its business, research and development and supply chain in the country.
Apple has recently also made a $1 million investment into cab-hailing service and Uber’s Chinese rival — Didi Chuxing. Apple has continuously been taking steps to continue the ‘Please The Dragon’ campaign(as dubbed by us), but in vain.