iPhones banned in China, but Apple refuses to play ball

If you want the iPhone 6S or the iPhone X, you better make sure you don’t intend on purchasing these Apple products in China.

Along with five other iPhone models, the Apple smartphones have been temporarily banned in China after a court granted an injunction to American chip making company Qualcomm Technologies who are engaged with the iPhone makers in a patent dispute.

The patents in question relate to photo manipulation and using of apps on a touchscreen, as reported by the Financial Times.

Qualcomm made the claim that the court ruling, dated November 28, prevents Apple subsidiaries in China from importing and selling the banned models in the country.

The Financial Times however says that Apple has responded by assuring its customers that all iPhone models will be available.

A statement from Apple quoted by the London based newspaper read, “All iPhone models remain available for our customers in China. Qualcomm is asserting three patents they had never raised before, including one which has already been invalidated. We will pursue all our legal options through the courts.”


Media reports suggest that the banned models are the iPhone 6S, iPhone 6S Plus, iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and the iPhone X. 

At the same time, the latest Apple models, the iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max and iPhone XR, appear not to be affected by the injunction as they either were not on the market when the patents case was filed, or can be circumvented by latest iOS software upgrades.

The legal dispute between Apple and Qualcomm seemingly began in January 2017 when the iPhone maker filed a lawsuit against the chip maker for its practice of charging royalties on percentages over the entirety of the smartphone, rather than just on the product it makes for the iPhone.

According to Wall Street Journal, Qualcomm argued that it charged royalties on the percentages of the entirety of iPhones because its patents are crucial to the functionalities of the smartphones, and not only limited to the chips it makes.

In turn, Qualcomm sued Apple in the US, China and Germany, claiming the iPhone maker was benefitting from its patents but was not providing the requisite compensation. 

A ruling on the case in Germany is also expected this month.


On the ruling in China, Qualcomm said, “Apple continues to benefit from our intellectual property while refusing to compensate us. These court orders are further confirmation of the strength of Qualcomm’s vast patent portfolio.”

The American chip maker also said that while it “deeply values our relationships with customers, rarely resorting to the courts for assistance”, it also felt that it had “an abiding belief in the need to protect intellectual property rights.”

Wall Street Journal however also reported that Qualcomm is itself involved in a variety of lawsuits, not least an antitrust lawsuit brought by the Federal Trade Commission in San Jose, California (US).

The chip making company is also appealing a Ksh87.4 billion fine by South Korea’s Fair Trade Commission over alleged antitrust violations.

Qualcomm has also settled an antitrust dispute with Taiwan’s Fair Trade Commission in August, Wall Street Journal said.

Apple’s statement in the Financial Times report had stated, “Qualcomm’s effort to ban our products is another desperate move by a company whose illegal practices are under investigation by regulators around the world.”


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By Kenyan Digest

The Kenyan Digest Team