Chinese Court Sides With Apple in Local Design Patent Disputes

A Chinese court has ruled in favor of Apple in connection with a set of ongoing design patent disputes between the American tech giant and a native phone-maker. In accordance with a ruling from the Beijing Intellectual Property Court (“IP Court”), Apple’s iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus do not infringe the design of little-known, local company Shenzhen Baili Marketing Services’ 100C model phone. The ruling serves to undo a May 2016 ban put forth by Beijing Intellectual Property Office (“IP Office”), ordering Apple and a local retailer Zoomflight to cease sales of the specific iPhone models in the region.

According to the IP Court’s decision, which was released on Friday, Apple and Zoomflight, a local supplier of Apple phones, are not on the hook for design patent infringement in connection with Shenzhen Baili’s design for its 100C phone. In what has been described as a string of “bizarre” decisions, the IP Office ruled against Apple last year, refusing to strip Shenzhen Baili of its design patent for 100C phones and then sided with Baili in holding that Apple’s iPhone 6 and 6 Plus infringe its design patent-protected 100C phone.

Apple appealed the IP Office’s decision to the IP Court, saying at the time: “The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus as well as iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus and iPhone SE models are all available for sale 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 IP Court.”

As of this past week, the IP Court held that the IP Office ran afoul of its established procedures by implementing the ban in lieu of citing sufficient proof to claim the designs constituted a violation of Baili’s intellectual property rights.

Representatives of IP Office and Shenzhen Baili said they are in the process of deciding whether to appeal the most recent ruling, according to Xinhua.

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