Apple iPhone Is Targeted in Beijing Patent Case
HONG KONG — In China, cheap smartphones made by relatively obscure companies aping branded designs are ubiquitous.
Usually it is the major brands that go after the smaller companies for patent infringement. But one of China’s low-cost phone makers recently filed a patent complaint against Apple in the city of Beijing — and for now, it has won.
With an appeals process ahead, the ruling is unlikely to have a major impact on Apple. Still, the action spotlights the growing number of cases of municipal patent offices in China backing local companies against larger, international brands.
According to a statement from the Beijing Intellectual Property Office, Apple infringed on a design patent used in a phone called the 100C, made by the Chinese phone maker Baili. The statement ordered Apple to stop selling certain older versions of the iPhone within Beijing, though an appeal of such a ruling to the courts in China usually forestalls any sales injunctions.
Apple said it had appealed, and a sales clerk at the Apple Store in the Sanlitun area of Beijing said on Friday evening that the store had received no instructions to stop selling the iPhone models and that “it is business as usual.” At the store, a handful of iPhone 6 models stood mostly unused as shoppers tapped on the newer 6s models at a nearby table.
苹果称已提起诉讼。周五傍晚，北京市三里屯苹果店的一名销售人员称该店未收到停售相关iPhone产品的指示，表示“照常营业”。店内，几部iPhone 6基本上都闲置着，顾客在体验旁边一张桌子上的新款iPhone 6s。
“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,” Apple said in a statement. “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 Beijing I.P. Court.”
“IPhone 6和iPhone 6 Plus，以及iPhone 6s、iPhone 6s Plus和iPhone SE今日在华均有售，”苹果在一则声明中称。“我们对北京一个地区性专利机构上月发布的行政命令提起了诉讼，因此该命令还需接受北京知识产权法院的审查。”
The new headache for Apple comes after increased regulatory pressure and problems in China. Recently, a Chinese company won the right to sell leather goods under the iPhone trademark after years of legal back and forth.
The Baili patent case pales in comparison to those troubles, though it underscores the day-to-day annoyances that can come with running a tech business in China.
The country has had its fair share of cases in which low-level manufacturers take on global brands. In perhaps the most famous, Apple paid $60 million to use the iPad trademark.
Patent issues like the one Apple has with Baili are common enough that a recent paper in the Vanderbilt Journal of Entertainment & Technology Law examined the topic. While the paper found that China’s patent system was not structured to benefit Chinese companies, it said there had been a number of recent “high-profile patent suits filed by relatively unknown Chinese firms against high-profile foreign tech companies like Apple, Samsung and Dell.”
像苹果和佰利之间的这种专利问题非常普遍。最近发表在《范德堡大学娱乐科技法期刊》(Vanderbilt Journal of Entertainment & Technology Law)上的一篇论文对此进行了研究。尽管文章认为中国专利制度并非朝向有利于中国公司的方向进行构建，但它表示最近“相对不知名的中国公司对苹果、三星(Samsung)和戴尔(Dell)等著名外国科技公司提起了大量广受关注的专利诉讼”。
Once a local intellectual property office in China finds an issue of infringement, companies can decide whether to appeal the matter. At that point, the issue typically is litigated or resolved via a settlement of some kind.