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Apple Is Being Banned From Selling Many iPhone Models In China, According To A Chinese Court Ruling

The court order presents a headache for Apple in moving some of the company’s older models in China, the world’s largest market for smartphones.

Last updated on December 10, 2018, at 11:25 a.m. ET

Posted on December 10, 2018, at 11:13 a.m. ET

Wang Zhao / AFP / Getty Images

The global chipmaker Qualcomm said in a statement Monday that it had won a preliminary order from a Chinese court that would prevent Apple from selling several iPhone models in China due to patent infringements.

The ruling, which came from the Fuzhou Intermediate People’s Court, applies to iPhones boxed with iOS 11, Apple’s older mobile software — specifically, the iPhone 6S, iPhone 6S Plus, iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X. According to the court, Apple iOS 11 violated Qualcomm’s patents around resizing photos and managing apps via touchscreen.

However, Apple’s newer iPhone models — the iPhone XS, XS Max, and iPhone XR — are not affected, since the newer models ship with the latest iOS 12 out of the box.

“Apple continues to benefit from our intellectual property while refusing to compensate us,” Don Rosenberg, general counsel of Qualcomm, said in a company statement.

"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," Apple said in a statement to BuzzFeed News. "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.”

The ruling is just one more development in an ongoing legal battle between Apple and Qualcomm. The chipmaker had been trying to ban iPhone sales in China for over a year, after attempting a similar sales ban in the US, though US officials have so far rebuffed this effort. In 2017, Qualcomm also sought to halt all manufacturing of iPhones in China. (Most iPhones are made in China, with the exception of two models, the iPhone SE and the iPhone 6S, which are made in the US.)

Though technically all iPhones loaded up with Apple’s latest software are still available in China, the injunction could present a headache for Apple in selling some of the company’s models loaded up with older software in the world’s largest market for smartphones.

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    Davey Alba is a senior technology reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York. While working for BuzzFeed News, she won the 2019 Livingston Award for international reporting.

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