THIRD TIME'S THE CHARM

After losing “iPhone” and “iPad,” Apple’s losing its grip on the iPhone 6 design in China

Obsession
China's Transition
Obsession
China's Transition

A local court has ordered Apple to stop selling the iPhone 6 and 6 plus in Beijing, in yet another patent dispute between a Chinese company and high-profile US brand.

Shenzhen-based company Baili claims Apple copied the look of its “100C” smartphone. According to Beijing Business Today (Chinese), the court issued its no-sell order on May 10, after Beijing’s intellectual property bureau issued an earlier patent infringement decision against the US company. The injunction has been stayed while Apple appeals, a company representative told Quartz; all iPhone 6 models are still available for sale in China.

If Apple loses this lawsuit, Beijing’s intellectual property regulator can either pull iPhones off the city’s shelves, or mediate between the companies to reach a compensation settlement. It wouldn’t be the first time a well-known western brand came up against an unexpected IP challenge in China and lost.

Here are the biggest Chinese v. foreign IP disputes in recent years:

Parties Disputed item Outcome Decision date
Apple v. Xintong Tiandi Technology “IPHONE” Xintong Tiandi won, and may continue using “IPHONE” on leather goods.

Apple has requested a retrial.

May 2016
Facebook v. Zhujiang Beverage “face book” (脸书 in Chinese) Facebook won. April 2016
Michael Jordan v. Qiaodan Sports 78 name and logo trademarks related to Michael Jordan Qiaodan won, after a retrial.

Michael Jordan’s appeal is pending.

July 2015
Zhan Baosheng v. Tesla “Tesla” Settled. Zhan settled with Tesla, deregistering the trademark in exchange for an undisclosed sum. August 2014
Adidas v. Adivon, Huazhu Shoes Co. “Adivon” (阿迪王 in Chinese) and its logo Adidas won. Adivon was ordered to stop using its Chinese name and logos, and to transfer its trademarks to Adidas for free. May 2013
Shenzhen Proview Technology v. Apple “IPAD” Settled. Apple paid Proview $60 million to transfer its trademark. July 2012

In the meantime, the latest standoff has spread to users of Chinese social network Weibo. “Apple hasn’t never even heard of you [Baili], how can it copy you? This shows all the problems and loopholes in the country’s intellectual property rights,” commented one user on a Weibo post about the decision (Chinese).

Others say that Baili is legitimately protecting its rights in China, casting Apple’s supporters as blind xenophiles. “Oh, so when other countries are suing our products or shows for copyright infringement, people would applaud their fight for copyright, because we [The Chinese] aren’t creative and only know how to copy off others,” commented another.

“Now when our country sues another for the same thing, and is legitimately protecting our rights, people are saying how China has no shame.”

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