Apple wins China patent battle over iPhone 6 design

Apple prevails against patent claim by local company Shenzhen Baili

Apple has fended off a claim that the iPhone 6’s design infringed a patent from a little-known local company in China.

Shenzhen Baili had claimed that the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus bore striking similarities to the products from its parent company, Digione. But on Friday, Beijing’s intellectual property court disagreed and ruled in favor of Apple.

The product designs of the two companies contain differences, the court said. For instance, Apple’s iPhone 6 contains a symmetrical exterior curve on the device, while the design patent from Baili uses an asymmetrical curve.

"This one difference has a significant impact on the overall look," the court said in a statement.

The two designs also feature other differences that average consumers can easily identify, the court added.

100c 100667069 orig State Intellectual Property Office

The smartphone design patent held by Shenzhen Baili.

According to the court’s statement, Baili said it will look over the judgment, before deciding whether to appeal.

The Chinese company has been warning Apple since 2014 about possible patent infringement. However, while smartphone competition in China has been fiercely competitive, the company’s handset business appears to be nonexistent. The site for its 100C smartphone is no longer online and social media promotion for its products has remained inactive for over two years.

Baili filed its lawsuit against Apple last year, asking the court to halt iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus sales in the country. In response, Apple appealed the court order, which put the sales ban on hold.

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment. But it’s not the first time that U.S. tech giant has faced lawsuits with local Chinese companies over Apple products.

In 2012, it paid $60 million for ownership of the iPad trademark in China, following a legal battle with another little-known Chinese firm called Proview, which was facing financial struggles.

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Michael Kan

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