The intellectual property regulator in China has ordered Apple not to sell iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus smartphones in Beijing owing to similarities to an existing Chinese smartphone. The directive comes after Baili Electronics sued Apple and its Chinese distributor and retailer Zhongu Telecom for infringing upon the design patent for its smartphone called the 100C. Apple has appealed against the order, Bloomberg reports. Also Read - iPhone 13 to come with faster charging as compared to iPhone 12Also Read - Apple TV Plus for free: PS5 owners get six months subscription free of cost
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 Chinese intellectual property office said. Also Read - This photo shot with iPhone X by an Indian wins iPhone Photography Awards
Responding to the ban order, Apple said, “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 s not the first time Apple has seen a ban in China. In April this year, China had banned the iBooks Store and iTunes Movies service as part of a crackdown on online services owned by foreign companies.
What s ironic is that there are tonnes of Chinese smartphones that have blatantly copied the iPhones in the past. Just last year in October, a smartphone called GooPhone i6S created a lot of buzz for being a blatant copy of the iPhone 6s. Interestingly, there had also been a GooPhone i5, which has inspired by the iPhone 5.
The latest directive, however, shows the challenges Apple faces in China, which is its biggest market outside the United States. However, Apple can appeal the order at a higher court and eventually the Supreme Court of China.
Undeterred by the softened sales, Apple has continued to make a lot of efforts to tap the Chinese market. The company recently announced investing $1 billion in Uber s Chinese equivalent, Didi Chuxing,. Apple s CEO Tim Cook recently visited China to show the company s keen interest in the market, and also held meetings with the local startups.
Besides focusing on local investments, Apple has also fine tuned its suite of apps and services for the Chinese market. It has added Chinese instruments to GarageBand. During the WWDC 2016, Apple announced adding support for Chinese characters in watchOS as well as increased support for Tencent’s caller ID feature and Siri integration with Wechat.