Last June we reported that ailing company Shenzhen Baili filed a lawsuit against Apple claiming that the iPhone 6 violated the patent of its 100c smartphone. Shortly after the lawsuit was filed, the Beijing Intellectual Property Office ruled that the iPhone did infringe on Shenzhen's patent rights, accusing Apple of having "copied" the exterior design of the 100c phone.
The Cupertino company was ordered to halt sales in Beijing completely, but an appeal at a regional patent tribunal was granted that allowed both the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus to remain on sale. Today's news finally appears to have put an end to the legal dispute.
The court "quashes the decision of the bureau" and "recognises that Apple ... has not infringed the design patent filed by the company Shenzhen Baili", according to the verdict reported by the People’s Court Daily.The Beijing court ruled that the features of the iPhone 6 "completely change[d] the effect of the entire product" and made both phones "easily distinguishable in the eyes of consumers".
The decision is likely to be another nail in the coffin for Baili, which was reported to "barely exist" even at the time of its original victory in the intellectual property office. The company, along with its parent Digione, is no longer a competitor in the Chinese smartphone market and has since collapsed, blighted by mismanagement and public criticism of its products, which were seen as poor quality.
Apple's lawyers will be relieved with today's ruling, given that Apple has been on the losing side of Chinese intellectual property lawsuits in the past. In May 2016, an "iPhone" branded leather goods maker won a lawsuit filed by Apple, after the court ruled Xintong Tiandi had registered the word as a trademark in 2007, while Apple's phones didn't go on sale in China until 2009.