Beijing, China – Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) is facing a demand in China over an intellectual property infringement in the design of the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus, which could end in the total blocking of the Apple smartphones in the Asian country.

Beijing’s Intellectual Property Bureau, the city’s patent regulator, ordered Apple to stop selling the iPhones. According to the institution, the design of the North American phone models is remarkably similar to that of a Chinese phone.

Apple could be in the storm's eye regarding a possible ban from sales in China. Image Credit: Wall Street Journal
Apple could be in the storm’s eye regarding a possible ban on sales in China. Image Credit: Wall Street Journal

The intellectual property office claims that the iPhones infringe a design patent held by the 100C (or 100+), the Android device in question. Shenzhen Baili Marketing Services is the company that makes the devices, and it was granted the patent two months before the Apple launching.

While it is an unknown company, it could cause the halt of the sales of both iPhone models, but only in Beijing. China is the second-largest market for Apple, but since the ruling applies only to a regional scale, and specifically to those iPhone models, it is not expected that it will have a notorious impact on Apple’s sales.

“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,” Apple said in an email statement.

Apple needs to roll up its sleeves and get to work

The statement from Apple means that the iPhone models are still being sold in the capital city, at least until the legal process is done.

The price differences between both models are pretty notorious. While the 100+ costs around 799 yuan, or about US$120, the iPhone 6 is less accessible, with a cost of initially 5,288 yuan.

Shenzhen Baili first warned Apple about the patent infringement in December 2014, three months after the launch of the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus, but Apple left the issue unresolved.

It is not the first time Apple has legal issues with China. In 2012 a similar case was held, this time over the iPad trademark. A Chinese company called Proview claimed to own it, and Apple ended up paying $60 million for the ownership in China.

On April this year, the China government shut down Apple’s iTunes Movies and iBook services without a prior public statement, because of violation of foreign publishing regulations. A month later, the “iPhone” name went from being an exclusive for Apple to give the right of an accessories maker to use it on a line of leather goods.

Source: IBT