iPhone 6s Design Violates Beijing Patent, Putting Apple’s Future In China At Risk?

Engadget reported on Thursday that Apple’s iPhone 6s external design may have violated a patent in Beijing for the external design of a smart phone by a rival company already offered there.

The report says that the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s plus “infringe on Shenzhen Baili’s patent rights because of similarities to its 100C phone.”

Apple plans to discontinue the iPhone 6s and other products in the series before the end of the year, to introduce the iPhone 7.

This is only being brought up as an issue in Beijing specifically, but Apple was able to get a stay for their products after they made an appeal.

Customers line up at an Apple store in Beijing for the iPhone 6 series, 2014. In this Friday, Sept. 19, 2014, file photo, people wait to buy the new Apple iPhone 6 and 6 Plus devices outside an Apple store in Hong Kong. [Image by Vincent Yu / AP Photo]Apple spokesperson Kristin Huguet provided details of the status of their appeal, via email to the source.

“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. 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 IP Court.”

Street Insider has quoted BMO Capital analyst Tim Long that the apparent patent violation does not impact the iPhone 6s, but rather iPhones that are two-years-old, as well as providing other reasons Apple feels the accusations are invalid.

The ban was initially enforced by the Beijing Intellectual Property Office, who claim that people would not be able to tell the differences between the iPhone 6s and the Shenzhen Baili 100C.

China's Intellectual Property Rights office enforced a ban on Apple's iPhone 6s for patent violation. Former EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson arrives at the State Intellectual Property Rights office in Beijing, China, Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2006. Mandelson appealed to China on Wednesday to stamp out widespread product piracy that he said was hurting European companies. “Counterfeiting is a drain on our competitiveness in the Chinese market,” Mandelson said in a written statement after meeting Chinese officials in charge of enforcing patents and copyrights. In a ironic twist, it is this organization who initially placed a ban on Apple’s iPhone 6s series, for similar designs to one of their own mobile company phone designs. The current EU Commissioner is now Cecilia Malmström. Mandelson ended his term in 2008. [Image by Elizabeth Dalziel / AP Photo]Already the relationship between Apple and China has been a bit tense, since it’s been reported that the technology company’s iTunes and iBooks stores are banned, adding to the regulatory crackdown Chinese officials usually reserve for their own citizens.

One op-ed piece from Seeking Alpha reflects on these regulations, fearing that other regional companies will be favored over Apple and a ban enforcement might spread to other cities.

The author of the piece goes even further to suggest that this would be an opportunity for Apple to innovate their products to work around these patent claims, which is where the release of the iPhone 7 would come into play, perhaps doing what they can to placate the regulators until they release it.

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One source has even quoted Analyst Gene Munster on the timing of this issue in Silicon Beat.

“The bottom line is that the ruling is unlikely to have any impact on numbers because the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus model will be discontinued in September,” Munster said. “Even if the device were banned through all of China for the September quarter, it would likely be no more than a 2 percent to 3 percent headwind on Apple’s sales during the period.”

Many consider this iPhone 6s patent ban to be ironic, as the region is full of copycat products which have actually taken the designs of Apple’s phones.

The country is known for regulating everything with their technologies and controlling what the public there sees or knows, and U.S. companies are aware of this and at the risk of getting rejected from the Chinese market, and are not interested in rocking the boat too much by getting into social-political issues.

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There’s much discussion about how much these restrictions against Apple’s iPhone 6s are impacting the company’s shares, with more than a few concerns as China is a highly-competitive smart phone market, but one which plays by under strict rules.

Inquisitr had previously reported on concerns by Congress over the Chinese company Huawei getting any footing in the U.S. market with their products over security fears, to the point where the company bailed out.

There’s a good chance that, with a record like that, the patent ban over the iPhone 6s can be considered payback.

[Image by Tetsuji Sakakibara via Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0]