Chinese writer sues Apple for IPR violation

14:19, June 28, 2011      

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Prospective buyers of the white edition of iPhone4 line up outside an Apple store in Shanghai. (Global Times Photo)

A Chinese writer has joined several publishing agencies and media organizations in suing US computer giant Apple Inc for its online store's alleged infringement of intellectual property rights.

The move marks the first time that an individual Chinese writer is taking on the US company, according to a leading copyright agency, which also pledged to probe the extent of Apple's IPR violations on writers' rights here in China.

Zhu Jintai, from Hunan Province, told the Global Times that his move to file a lawsuit against Apple came after his proposal to settle out of court and demand for an apology from the company failed in May.

"Apple's app store put my novel on sale without notifying or paying me," said Zhu, writer of a popular Chinese paranormal fiction novel set in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).

The book has been sold at $2.99 per download at the app store since November 2010, two months after it was published, Zhu said.

About 50,000 copies of the book have been printed and each was sold at 38.8 yuan ($5.88). Zhu is asking for compensation of 50,000 yuan from Apple.

"All I want is to protect my rights and raise public awareness of Apple's copyright infringements among Chinese writers," Zhu said.

Sun Xiangyuan, Zhu's lawyer, told the Global Times, "We wrote to Apple's headquarters in the US to inform it of its copyright infringement. Apple then removed the novel from the store in May, but didn't provide us any effective information on the app developer as we requested."

"Apple didn't provide us download numbers for the app, so it is difficult to calculate how much Zhu has lost," Sun said.

The App Store reached a landmark 10 billion downloads in January. Apple revealed in January that its earnings in China had quadrupled in the first fiscal quarter of 2011 to $2.6 billion, 10 percent of Apple's total revenue.

Zhu filed the lawsuit with the Shanghai No.2 Intermediate People's Court. The court has not yet accepted the case, but asked Zhu to provide additional documents as "the accused is a foreign company."

"App Store's operator is not based in China, so it is costing us more money and time to gather information and prepare paperwork," Sun added.

Sun attributed Apple's copyright infringement to its "double standards."

"Apple pays attention to IPR protection in the US," he said. "But when it comes to China, it relaxes its standards."
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Source: Global Times
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