Over the weekend, Apple was almost dealt a fatal blow in China. The Beijing Intellectual Patent Office ruled that Apple’s iPhone 6 infringed on patents held by a certain company named Shenzhen Baili, which would have meant sales of the smartphone would need to be suspended. Apple gained a slight reprieve while the ruling gets reviewed. Now it would seem that the company that sued it, as well as its parent company Digione, might not exactly be what they say, with Shenzhen Baili barely existing as a “flesh and blood” company.
Although Shenzhen Baili itself, whose 100C phone is the subject of the patent lawsuit, isn’t exactly known, its parent company Digione might have hit news here and there, especially after it gained some investment from Chinese Internet giant Baidu, and then earned the latter’s ire. Some snooping done by the Wall Street Journal hinted that Digione itself has been out of the mobile business for nearly a year, thanks to a combination of misnagement, delayed products, and disagreeable executives.
Shenzhen Baili, on the other hand, almost has no traces of its existence. It presence on the Web has practically vanished and even its registered offices no longer exist. Its phone does seem to be still connected but no one answers the calls. Digione insists that Baili still remains operational in its necessary functions, which is to say, a skeleton force of some sort. If indeed it still exists. It might be hard to give credence to Digione’s claims given its history and reputation, and the fact that both it and Shenzhen Baili are considered to be insolvent.
Despite that, Digione’s lawyer insists that it and Baili will continue fighting Apple and even plans on expanding its lawsuit to include the iPhone 6s. It says that whether Digione actually still makes devices has no bearing on the case, only whether Apple infringes on the pantent or not. As such, he has practically branded his employers as a non-practicing patent assertion entity, lovingly called by some as a patent troll.
It might have a point, however, as the case will be decided on the patent’s merits, not the companies’ shady characters. At the moment, iPhone sales still continue as the appeal is still waiting to be heard. However, now that Apple has been roused, the US company will undoubtedly use its near unlimited resources to fend it off, resources that neither Digione nor Baili do not have. Nonetheless, the case may have achieved what Digione’s former employees claim has been the goal all along: getting into the headlines again.
SOURCE: Wall Street Journal