Apple Wins 40 Patents in China to Counter Piracy

  @redletterdave on September 21 2011 1:32 PM
Chinese Police Arrest Fake iPhone Ring as Apple’s iPhone 5 Unveiling Looms
With Apple's iPhone-focused media event just around the corner, Chinese police in Shanghai have confirmed the arrest of five individuals selling fake versions of its popular iPhone devices. Reuters/Aly Song

Piracy of Apple products has been running rampant in China, but now, Apple has some new ammunition since being granted 40 patents in the country, according to the China Daily. As a result, the Cupertino, Calif.-based company gains additional intellectual property protection in China, where Apple's mobile devices are among the most pirated gadgets.

The patents, granted to Apple on Sept. 9, mostly cover aspects of Apple's mobile devices relating to user interface and speaker technology. However, the patents apply to 37 of Apple's most popular products, including the iPhone, iPad, and Macbook Air.

The patents also include the architecture and design of its three Apple Stores in Shanghai, according to the IP blog Patently Apple. Many stores in China have been found to copy Apple's storefront, and according to the China Daily, 22 of these copycat shops have already been shut down.

While addressing the Chinese propensity for manufacturing Apple knock-offs, the patents also hope to be a chip in Apple's international patent battle against other mobile phone makers. Apple is currently battling HTC in a U.S. federal court in Delaware and at the International Trade Commission, and the Korea Times reports that Samsung plans to file suit against Apple over a patent infringement related to the phone's wireless communications systems.

For as long as Apple does not drop mobile telecommunications functions, it would be impossible for it to sell its i-branded products without using our patents, a source from Samsung reportedly told the Korea Times. We will stick to a strong stance against Apple during the lingering legal rights.

Apple and Samsung have been battling over smartphone and tablet patents over the last several months. Apple threw the first punch in April, and ever since then the two companies have been battling back-and-forth. The battles have taken on a global scale, as the companies have filed litigation against each other in the United States, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Germany, Japan, and Australia.

Apple has won a number of these legal battles, making it so Samsung cannot distribute its Galaxy Tab in Germany or its smartphones in the Netherlands. Samsung has also delayed its tablet in Australia pending a resolution, and proceedings are still underway in Japan, Korea, and the UK.

[Samsung's] products... blatantly imitate the appearance of Apple's products to capitalize on Apple's success, said Apple in its complaint against the company in June. The copying has been widely observed in the industry and has been mentioned in several articles reviewing Samsung products.

Securing more patents in Asia, particularly China, will bolster Apple's patent litigation efforts elsewhere, even though the company seems to be winning most of them anyway.

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