Apple iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus
Authorities in Beijing have ruled that the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6S infringe on a copyright patent and therefore cannot be sold in China Apple

Apple is facing a ban from selling its iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus smartphones in China after authorities in Beijing found on Friday (16 June 2016) that the phones are too similar in design to the smartphone of a much smaller Chinese smartphone manufacturer.

The Beijing Intellectual Property Office has ruled that the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus infringe on a design patent filed by Chinese smartphone manufacturer Shenzhen Baili, which is the maker of the 100C smartphone, an Android handset that bears only a few similarities to the iPhone 6. The ban does not affect the 6S or 6SPlus models of the Apple handset.

Although some reports say Apple has not had a ban, the decision states at least three shopping malls, stores and factories in Beijing and Shanghai must immediately stop the sale and manufacture of these models.

In theory, if Apple doesn't appeal the decision – which, of course, it will – this would mean that it would no longer be allowed to sell these phones in Beijing, and if Shenzhen Baili were to ask for an injunction against the smartphones in other provinces, other authorities in China could use this decision as a precedent to ban the products too.

This decision is the latest in a series of setbacks Apple has experienced in China. In May, the electronics giant lost its fight to keep the name 'iPhone' exclusive to Apple products after a Beijing court ruled that a small, little-known accessories-maker was allowed to use the name as a brand for a range of purses and wallets.

Apple's iTunes Movies and iBooks services were blocked by Chinese authorities in April without any reason issued, and in 2012, the electronics giant had to pay out $60m (£42m) to Proview International Holdings in order to settle a dispute over the right to use the name 'iPad' in China.