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Apple Bites Back With iPhone Court Win in China

26 Mar 2017 8:51 am

BEIJING--A Chinese court has overturned a ruling against Apple Inc. over iPhone patents, a win for the tech giant in one of its toughest markets.

The Beijing IP Court ruled the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus don't infringe on patents for exterior smartphone design held by a defunct local manufacturer, Shenzhen Baili Marketing Services Co.

The court found Baili had no grounds to claim the exterior designs were exclusive, and that it was easy for consumers to detect the differences, according to the verdict reported by a newspaper supervised by China's Supreme People's Court.

"Baili has been trying to claim our work as their own and we thank the Beijing IP Court for recognizing the value of Apple's unique and innovative design," an Apple spokeswoman said in a statement Sunday.

Baili's lawyer, Andy Yang of Beijing Wis & Weals, said Sunday the decision would be appealed. "We think some of the facts ascertained by the Beijing IP court are not accurate, so Baili is definitely going to continue to safeguard its legitimate rights," he said.

In May last year, the Beijing Intellectual Property Office granted Baili a sales injunction in the capital city against the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. The injunction was immediately suspended pending an appeal from Apple.

The Beijing IP Court's decision on March 24 came shortly after Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook visited China, speaking to top officials and pledging further investment in the country. The Apple spokeswoman declined to say if Mr. Cook had spoken with officials about the suit during his visit.

If Apple had lost its appeal, it would have had minimal immediate impact on its business, since it only covered older iPhone models. But it could have paved the way for further cases against Apple's newer models.

China has been Apple's toughest market in recent times, as local rivals eat into its market share with lower-priced, high-spec devices.

Chinese internet giant Baidu Inc. was a major investor in Baili in 2013, but has since distanced itself from the company.

Eva Dou and Yang Jie

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

March 26, 2017 04:51 ET (08:51 GMT)

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