Apple faces a ban on selling iPhone 6 and 6 Plus handsets in China after a court ruled that the smartphones copied the design of a handset made by little-known company Baili.
The Beijing Intellectual Property Office ruled that Apple and its Chinese distributor Zhongfu Telecom infringed a patent held by Shenzhen-based Baili, which is suing Apple for copying the design of its 100C smartphone, Chinese media reported.
The phones are apparently so similar that smartphone buyers can't tell the difference. This is despite the 100C handset having a design that resembles a large number of Android smartphones on the market.
"Apple's iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus have minor differences from Baili's 100C. The differences are so tiny that the average customer could not notice. So this case falls into the patent rights protection category," the ruling said.
Oddly, the Baili lawsuit doesn't mention the iPhone 6S or iPhone 6S Plus, although these devices have the same design as the iPhone 6 line.
Baili won an injunction that could have forced Apple to remove the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus from the shelves in China. However, Apple was quick to appeal against the ruling in a higher court, which allows the firm to continue selling the iPhone 6 line until that court makes a decision on the case.
Apple has yet to respond to our request for comment.
This scuffle comes two months after Apple's iTunes Movies and iBooks Store were handed a ban in China soon after launching in the country.
China's State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television blocked the services as part of a crackdown on online services owned by foreign companies that compete directly with similar offerings from Chinese companies.
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