Beijing-based intellectual property specialist firm LexField Law Offices has helped chipmaker Qualcomm Inc. win two preliminary injunctions against iPhone sales in China.
Earlier this week, San Diego-based Qualcomm announced that China’s Fuzhou Intermediate People’s Court had granted the company injunctions against Apple Inc., banning imports and sales of seven older models of iPhones in China, on grounds of two patent violations.
Qualcomm was represented in the case by LexField co-managing partner Jiang Hongyi, a prominent intellectual property litigator. Apple was advised by longtime counsel Fangda Partners with a team led by Beijing partner Yang Pu. Fuzhou-based Topwe Law Firm was co-counsel to Apple.
Little known to the outside world, LexField has a strong reputation in the intellectual property field, especially in helping multinationals fending off infringement in China. In 2013, Jiang, who co-founded the firm in 2009, successfully represented Google on a trademark infringement case that ended up going all the way to the Supreme People’s Court, China’s top court.
Jiang was also a founding partner of specialist IP firm Lifang & Partners before forming LexField with former King & Wood trademark partner Jan Liu.
In two related decisions issued on Nov. 30, the Fuzhou Intermediate Court agreed with Qualcomm that Apple’s iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X violated two Chinese patents owned by the chipmaker. The sales ban came after an unsuccessful attempt earlier this year by Apple to challenge the validity of the two patents before China’s Patent Re-examination Board.
In granting relief to Qualcomm, the court held that if Apple’s infringement is not stopped, it will cost Qualcomm more damages as more iPhone models are introduced. The court was also concerned that damages will expand to Qualcomm’s other licensees in China.
The injunctions were part of Qualcomm’s ongoing patent infringement suit against Apple, which are part of a global patent dispute between the two U.S. companies. A preliminary injunction is a form of interim relief during litigation proceedings. The patents in question are related to photo resizing and touch-screen app managing.
According to the court, the injunctions are effective until a judgment is rendered for the infringement suit. The injunctions themselves are not appealable to a higher court, but Apple is allowed 10 days to file for a reconsideration at the same court. The injunctions will remain effective during the reconsideration period.
As of press time, the iPhone models in question are still on sale in China. On Thursday, Qualcomm said it has filed a petition asking the court for compulsory enforcement of the injunctions. The Greater China region, which includes the mainland, Hong Kong and Taiwan, accounts for almost 20 percent of iPhone’s global shipment.
The iPhone injunctions follow a similar sales ban issued by the same court earlier this year against U.S. semiconductor maker Micron Technology Inc. In July, the Fuzhou Intermediate Court granted injunctions to Chinese chipmaker Fujian Jinhua Integrated Circuit Co. Ltd. and Taiwanese chipmaker United Microelectronics Corp. against imports and sales of Micron’s chips. In November, the U.S. Department of Justice charged both Jinhua and UMC with economic espionage.
The Fuzhou Intermediate Court is one of 15 municipal courts across China that have set up a specialized intellectual property tribunal; these tribunals are in addition to three specialist intellectual property courts in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. In October, the Supreme People’s Court set up its own IP tribunal, which will operate as a circuit court, aiming to take over all appellate patent cases.