[JURIST] The Beijing Intellectual Property Bureau ordered Apple to stop sale of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus in Beijing due to claims by Chinese regulators that Apple Inc. violated a patent held by a Chinese company. According to Chinese media, the phones infringe on a Chinese patent [WSJ report] for exterior design held by Shenzhen Baili for the 100C smartphone. A source associated with Apple’s production plans says that Apple plans on ending production of the restricted models. Apple has stated that it plans to appeal the decision, but assuming that Apple fails, some believe that the ruling will create a harmful precedent [Bloomberg report] for Apple throughout the entire country. All this comes at a time when Apple’s shares have dropped significantly, largely thought to be a result of China’s recent restrictions on the tech company.
Apple has been embroiled in controversy in China ever since it started operations in the country. In July 2013 New York-based labor rights group, China Labor Watch [advocacy website] accused [JURIST report] Apple, and its affiliate Pegatron [corporate website], which assembles products including the iPhone 4, iPhone 4S and iPhone 5, of withholding employees’ pay and imposing excessive working hours at factories in mainland China. In December 2012 a Beijing court ordered Apple to pay damages of 1.03 million yuan (USD $165,908) to eight Chinese writers and two companies for copyright infringement. The Beijing No. 2 Intermediate People’s Court [official website, in Chinese], a regional court directly below China’s appellate level courts, held [JURIST report] that software available on Apple’s app store contained unlicensed digital copies of the writers’ books in violation of the plaintiffs’ “right of communication through information networks.” That decision was the second in four months from the same court ordering Apple to pay USD $83,000 in damages for alleged copyright infringement of a Chinese encyclopedia publisher. In July of the same year, the Guangdong Hich People’s Court in China confirmed a settlement [JURIST report] reached the previous week in a trademark case whereby Apple agreed to pay $60 million [NYT report] to Shenzhen Proview Technology for the use of the iPad trademark in mainland China. Although Apple had already paid $55,000 for the trademark in 2009 to the company’s Taiwanese affiliate, Proview Taipei, the Chinese affiliate argued that Apple misled it by buying the name through a smaller company, IP Application Development.