Following intense pressure from Apple and intellectual property regulators in China, Meizu Technology Co., Ltd. is halting production of its popular iPhone lookalike. The Meizu M8, which some have called the most successful mobile phone in China, somewhat resembles the iPhone 3G and runs a skinned version of Android that looks like iOS. Last week, the company's CEO posted on a popular Meizu forum to say that they would have to suspend the manufacturing of the M8 because of all the heat coming down from the government of Guangdong province.
Since before the M8 started production, Apple has been threatening the Chinese company over potential patent infringement. That pressure increased, with Meizu CEO Jack Wong saying on a forum post at MeizuMe.com
that "Apple's lawyers have been using less than decent negotiation tactics." According to Jack, Apple was attempting to "claim rights to the large touchscreen smartphone form factor." Bowing to complaints from Apple, the Guangdong provincial branch of the State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) also dogpiled on Meizu, threatening to shut his factory down if he kept manufacturing the iPhone clones.
Jack eventually agreed to Apple's demand that he stop production of the M8, but Apple then raised the bar, saying that Meizu also had to stop all display and sales of his remaining stock of M8s. SIPO has the power to close factories without a court order, which means that Meizu's factory can be shut down if they do not comply. Jack objects, saying this was not part of the agreement he negotiated with Apple, and that it would be a major blow to his company as well as driving Meizu's franchised stores out of business. "I can cope with a production freeze, but not with having our shops closed and thus not being able to use up our inventory," Jack wrote on MeizuMe
. "If Apple and the provincial IPO take another insatiable (?) step, I can only go head to head against them." He claims that he has the support of the city of Zhuhai against the provincial intellectual property office's stance.
Meizu is currently gearing up for the launch of the M9
, which is an Android phone with more of a unique design that will sport a Cortex-A9 multicore processor and a high-definition 960x680 screen. Jack hopes that he can keep his factory open so that he can get the new phone out, and that the M9's changed appearance will keep Apple off his back.