Apple has finally caught a break in its rather tumultuous relationship with the Chinese market. The Cupertino-based company has long been trying to woo one of the world’s largest smartphone markets with mixed results. While iPhones are indeed popular in China, Apple has been experiencing rather strong opposition not just from rivals but also from government agencies and patent holding entities. At least Apple has gotten a slight reprieve now that the Beijing Intellectual Property Court has overturned a previous ruling that found Apple guilty of copying a design patent for the iPhone 6.
Last year, the Beijing Intellectual Property Office sided with plaintiff Shenzen Baili who sued Apple back in 2014 for patent infringement. It claimed that the iPhone 6’s new design infringes on the design of its own 100C smartphone with its rounded corners and curved edges. Apple would have been forced to immediately halt sales of the iPhone 6 and later models in China, had it not been granted a stay on the injunction pending an appeal.
Fortunately for Apple, the law has sided with it in this case. The Beijing IP court determined that the iPhone had enough features to distinguish it from the 100C and that consumers won’t be so easily fooled by superficial similarities. It also said that there was no legal basis for the claim in the first place.
The ruling could deal a fatal blow to Shenzen Baili and parent company Digione, which are barely existing as skeleton companies anyway. There has been some doubt about the credibility of the company suing Apple and it might have just used up its last legal recourse and hope for financial salvation.
While a significant victory for Apple, it is far from being safe in China. It has still been found guilty in other cases, including a patent infringement on Siri and even the iPhone trademark. There’s also the never-ending censorship issues. With rising competition from Chinese OEMs, Apple definitely still has a lot of work, especially legal ones, to do.