Apple just won a design patent case in China. The dispute happened between the US tech giant and Shenzhen Baili, a national phone maker.
Shenzhen Baili complained that Apple was infringing his patent and therefore asked for a sales ban on the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus in China. Apple decided to appeal the decision, and they successfully won.
What was Shenzhen Baili claiming?
In May 2016, the Beijing Intellectual Property Office decided that Apple’s Chinese subsidiary and local retailer Zoomflight had to stop selling the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus because, according to Shenzhen Baili Marketing Services, Apple’s iPhones infringed the patent for the design of Shenzhen Baili’s mobile phone 100c.
Apple, alongside Zoomflight, decided to take the Beijing Intellectual Property office’s ban immediately to the courts. They said that the iPhone 6 could be easily distinguished from the 100c phone. Since Apple appeal the decision, the damages were minimal, because the company was allowed to continue selling the iPhone until the court made the decision.
On Friday, A Beijing Court overruled the previous ban and decided that Apple and Zoomflight were not violating the Shenzhen Baili’s design patent. The Court also said that the Beijing regulator didn’t follow the due process when it ordered Zoomflght to stop selling the products, because there weren’t enough proofs to claim that there was, in fact, a violation of intellectual property rights.
The court had already denied Apple a previous request that demanded to strip Shenzhen Baili of its design patent for the 100c mobile phones. The application was filed first to the Patent Reexamination Board, but they rejected such a request.
Then Apple introduced a lawsuit against the rejection. The decision was also reaffirmed by the Beijing Intellectual property Court on Friday.
Chinese’s intellectual property rules
The representatives of the Beijing Intellectual Property Office and the Chinese company, Shenzhen Baili said that they are considering whether to appeal the ruling or not. Apple has not made more comments.
Part of the discussion was whether Shenzhen Baili existed because it no longer manufactured phones, and the controversial 100c smartphones are almost impossible to find.
Chinese courts allowed the national manufacturer, Xingtong Tiandi, to use the iPhone name on leather goods, such as bags. The company had registered to use the brand name in 2007, while Apple made its way into the Chinese market in 2009. The Court said that Apple never registered its name on leather goods.
Apple’s share of the Chinese market has been decreasing in the last years due to new phone manufacturers such Xiaomi and BBK Electronics’ brands Oppo and Vivo. In spite of its loss of the market share, Apple continues to be the most valuable player in that industry. In 2016, it had 79 percent of the profits in the whole smartphone industry with just 14.5 percent market share.
Source: International Bussiness Times