Chinese courts have ordered Apple to suspend sales of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus following a successful legal challenge by a little-known Shenzhen-based startup.
According to the Wall Street Journal, an intellectual property tribunal said that the iPhones infringed a design patent for the 100C model manufactured by Shenzhen Baili (see photos below).
“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,” said the ruling by the Beijing Intellectual Property Office.
The order was given in May, but Apple had received a stayed pending appeal which allowed sales to continue. Chinese media only broke the news earlier this week.
For some bizarre reason, the judgement did not extend to the iPhone 6S or iPhone 6S Plus which have an identical appearance to the models affected by the ruling.
Apple has since released a statement saying that they plan to continue selling while it appealed the decision.
iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus as well as iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus and iPhone SE models are all available for sale as of 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.
The decision is the latest in a series of setbacks for the Cupertino-based tech giant, which earlier last month lost a legal challenge against a Chinese company which sells leather goods branded with “IPHONE.”
“It is still relatively rare for Chinese companies to attack and be successful against Western companies,” said Erick Robinson, chief patent counsel at the Rouse China law firm, “but you’re going to see more and more of this.”