Apple Sued In China For Allegedly Copying iPhone 6 Design
Apple is in a court battle in China that isn’t going so well.
Baili, a Chinese device maker, has sued Apple (AAPL) for allegedly copying its smartphone design in the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. A Chinese court recently granted Baili an injunction that would have forced Apple to remove the iPhone 6 line from store shelves. However, Apple quickly appealed the ruling to a higher court, which will allow it to continue selling the iPhone 6 line until that court makes its own ruling on the case.
Gadget site Engadget previously reported on the lawsuit.
The smartphone in question is Baili’s 100C, which sells under the 100+ brand. The device has a somewhat similar design to the iPhone 6 with a big screen, a black bezel around the display, and a thin body. However, Baili’s smartphone also looks rather similar to many other Android-based devices on the market.
According to a posting on Tenna, a China-based e-commerce site, the 100C went on sale in April 2014. Apple’s iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus went on sale in the fall of 2014, which Baili has noted in its argument against Apple.
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Oddly, the Baili lawsuit doesn’t include the iPhone 6s or iPhone 6s Plus, though those devices have the same design as the iPhone 6 line.
Winning in a local court in China isn’t necessarily uncommon for Chinese companies. Indeed, several lawsuits by Chinese companies against U.S. technology giants including Apple and Tesla (TSLA), haven’t turned out so well in lower courts for the American firms. However, when the cases reach a higher court, they’re often overturned. Exactly why there’s such a difference in rulings across lower courts and higher courts is unknown.
Still, after winning the first case, Baili is on the offensive, forcing Apple to show that its iPhone 6 doesn’t infringe and should remain on store shelves.
If it prevails, Apple’s iPhones will remain on shelves alongside Baili’s. However, an Apple loss could result in Apple being forced to take the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus out of Chinese stores. Baili might also be entitled to damages, although a court would ultimately decide on the final figure.
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For now, though, the companies are preparing for their next legal battle, which likely won’t be resolved for months.
While Baili was unreachable at the time of publication, Apple declined Fortune‘s request for comment on the lawsuit on Thursday. However, the company reversed course and issued the following statement to Fortune on Friday confirming our earlier report: “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.”
Update 06/17/16 at 11:02 a.m. ET to include Apple’s new statement.