It is usually the major brands that target smaller companies for patent infringement. However, in a classic case of David v Goliath one of China's low-cost and relatively small scale phone manufacturers filed a patent complaint against Apple in Beijing and has, for now, won.
The Beijing Intellectual Property Office held that Apple's iPhone 6 and 6S models infringed patents for the exterior design in the 100C model manufactured by Shenzhen Baili.
The decision was issued in May but it was only reported by Chinese media last week.
Apple has appealed against the ruling to the Beijing Higher People's Court, meaning the judgment is stayed but if that decision goes against Apple the iPhone 6 and 6S could be banned from the country.
A statement issued by Apple said, "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."
Apple in China
The loss is yet more bad news for Apple in China as the order represents the latest setback for Apple in the increasingly significant Chinese market. It comes shortly after the company was denied the right to use the 'iPhone' trade mark in spring 2016 in connection with leather goods in the country. Our articles on this issue can be read in "A rotten Apple in China" and "Apple to appeal China Trademark Decision".
Furthermore, in April this year, the Chinese Government shut down the iTunes and iBook services which was reported by the BBC.
China is a very important market for Apple and news of their difficulties in the country has hit the company's share price. It accounts for a quarter of all Apple sales and is the largest phone market in the world. The country is also an area of growth in the phone market at a time when many consumers in the US or Western Europe already own an iPhone.
However, Apple is not alone in having difficulty trading in China. International companies generally have had issues with Google having pulled many of its services from the country due to censorship concernsin: Case Law, News, Patents