In May 2016, Beijing Intellectual Property Office ruled that Apple Company and one of its retailers in Beijing, Zoomflight, violated local company Shenzhen Baili Marketing Services’ design patent. China’s Patent Law designates a design patent as new “shape, pattern, or the combination thereof, or the combination of the color with shape and pattern, which are rich in an aesthetic appeal” for industrial application.
According to Shenzhen Baili, the American company infringed its mobile phone 100c’s design by selling iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 plus. After reviewing the case, the Beijing Office ordered Zoomflight to stop selling these mobile phones on Chinese market, ruling in favor of the Chinese company.
Unsatisfied with the sale ban ruling, Apple and Zoomflight brought the case before the Beijing Intellectual Property Court which recently overruled the ban order. Indeed, on March 24th 2017, the Court not only did not recognized any infringement of Shenzhen Baili’s patent rights but also considered that the Beijing Office, by ordering the ban, did not follow the legal procedures since there were not sufficient evidence for patent infringement. The Court found that Apple’s mobile phones design was well distinguishable from consumers’ point of view.
At the present time, it is not known whether Shenzhen Baili will appeal against the ruling. Assuming the Chinese company will, the chances for it to be successful are pretty low. This patent dispute can be regarded as a great victory for Apple in China and once more, it proves that positive changes are happening in China regarding protection of intellectual property rights.