Citing a violation of design patents, the Beijing Intellectual Property Office has ordered Apple to halt sales of its latest iPhone models on the territory of the city, Bloomberg reports.
The ruling claims that Apple has infringed on the patent rights of local device manufacturer Shenzhen Baili, deeming the design of the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus too similar to the Chinese company’s 100C phone series.
Apple can still appeal the ruling which will allow the company to continue selling its phones during the process.
According to IP specialist Ted Chwu, Apple can object the decision in multiple venues including Beijing Higher People’s Court and the Supreme People’s Court before the ruling could be enforced.
“If the position by the Beijing IP office is upheld and Apple doesn’t appeal further, then in theory they wouldn’t be able to sell the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus,” he further told Bloomberg.
While for now the decision applies solely to Beijing, the ruling could potentially set a precedent and open the door for future lawsuits against the iPhone-maker in other parts of China.
This development is the latest roadblock Apple faces on Chinese soil following the company’s first quarter of declining sales in years.
What makes the ruling a special matter of concern is that China is currently Apple’s largest and most important market outside of the US.
This isn’t the first time the iPhone-maker has had run-ins with Chinese authorities. Last month, for instance, a court ruling allowed local leather accessories company Xintong Tiandi to use the ‘iPhone’ trademark on its products.
We’ve reached out to Apple for comment on the matter and will update the post when we hear back, though reports say Apple has already filed an action against the ruling.