Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) has been ordered to stop selling the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus in the Chinese capital of Beijing after the handset was ruled to violate intellectual property rights, Bloomberg reported.
The city's IP regulator found that Apple's current flagship devices infringe on a design patent held by Shenzhen Baili's for its 100C phone. The decision, which was published by the Beijing Intellectual Property Bureau last month, applies only to the city but could influence similar cases elsewhere in China.
The immediate impact of the ruling is unclear: Bloomberg reported that Apple can appeal the decision and continue to sell the phones during the process, while The Wall Street Journal said some Beijing retailers have already ceased sales of the handsets, "switching to newer models." The Journal also said Apple "will soon end" production of both the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, presumably as the company launches a new flagship device later this year.
The news is the latest in a series of hurdles for Apple in China, which remains the world's largest smartphone market. The Chinese government blocked Apple's book and movie services a few months ago for violating foreign publishing rules, and in 2013 the company was accused of providing inferior customer service.
And slowing overall sales in the Chinese smartphone market has been a drag on Apple's worldwide smartphone business over the last year. Kantar Worldpanel ComTech reported in March that iPhone sales over the three-month period through January had slowed in urban China to their lowest levels since late 2014, and the company's first-quarter results marked the first time revenues had fallen year-over-year since 2003.
Meanwhile, Apple has increasingly focused on growing its business in India, an emerging region that will eventually overtake China as the world's largest smartphone market.
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