Beijing iPhone Ban is About Money, not Politics

| Analysis

The Chinese company that won a ban on iPhone 6 sales in Beijing has been dead for about a year. But if you’re thinking this is a case where China’s government is using Shenzhen Baili’s name in a political game against Apple, think again; this is a case where a company couldn’t cut it making crappy products in a cut throat market.

Apple blocked in China

Beijing iPhone 6 ban is a money grab, not politics

Shenzhen Baili and its parent company Digione filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Apple in December 2014 claiming the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus stole design concepts they owned. A court in Beijing recently granted an injunction blocking the sale of those specific iPhone models in the city, and Apple was granted a stay in the order so all of its smartphone models are still available.

The injunction could be seen as a win for Baili, assuming it was still in business. Both Baili and Digione crumbled before the end of 2015, according to the Wall Street Journal, and what appears to be little more than a shell of Baili continues to pursue the case.

Baili doesn’t seem to be doing much more than maintaining the design patent infringement case. Its offices are closed, the company websites are offline, and its phones go unanswered.

The company doesn’t have the best reputation in the smartphone market, and that may not help its case during Apple’s appeal. Baili filed its design patent as iPhone 6 images started leaking onto the internet, and the similarities between the two were striking.

Digione filed the patent infringement lawsuit shortly after the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus were released and was met with public skepticism and accusations that it stole and then patented Apple’s designs, and turned to the courts as a publicity move to help product sales. Considering the poor reputation its shoddy smartphones had, it’s likely Digione really was hoping the case would be a good marketing move.

Consumers weren’t, however, interested in buying phones that were prone to overheating and running a buggy operating system.

Digione was also facing pressure from big name investor Baidu over accusations it redirected money that was earmarked for creating a new operating system into making low quality phones. Baidu launched an arbitration case against Digione to get back its money. Considering Digione and Baili are both insolvent, it doesn’t look like Baidu will get its money any time soon.

It’s no surprise Baili is maintaining a shell to follow through with the lawsuit considering it couldn’t compete in the smartphone market, and Baidu is breathing down Digione’s financial neck. This lawsuit looks like Digione’s last hope in making up any of the money it lost trying to compete in a market where it was outclassed by most every other smartphone maker.

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