Patent ruling goes against Apple in Beijing

BEIJING • Apple Inc was hit with another setback in China, where officials in Beijing slapped the company with a patent violation on some iPhone models, ruling in favour of a small local rival.

Apple was quick to downplay the ruling, saying an appeal had already been lodged, allowing the phones to stay on the market in the Chinese capital pending the outcome. Still, the decision is another sign that Chinese officials are scrutinising the company more closely and comes as Apple, already grappling with slowing iPhone sales, prepares to roll out the next version of its smartphone.

China shut down Apple's book and movie service in April for violating foreign publishing regulations, and last month, a Beijing court ruled that a little-known accessories maker could use the iPhone label for a range of wallets and purses.

In the face of such obstacles, Apple has made efforts to remain on good terms with the Chinese government, including a visit by chief executive officer Tim Cook in May during which he announced a US$1 billion (S$1.35 billion) investment.

Beijing's Intellectual Property Office said the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus infringe on patent rights held by Shenzhen Baili because of similarities to its 100C phone, according to its ruling on Friday. While the decision covers only Beijing, future lawsuits against Apple could take the case as a precedent.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on June 19, 2016, with the headline 'Patent ruling goes against Apple in Beijing'. Print Edition | Subscribe