updated 01:45 pm EDT, Sat October 9, 2010
Apple stops Meizu over M8 cloning dispute
Meizu chief Jack Wong today reported that Apple had effectively stopped sales of the similar-looking M8 in China after claims of design copying. The American company initially struck a deal with Meizu to stop just production of new models but allegedly turned on the deal and ordered Meizu to stop selling any models that were already in store. China's Intellectual Property Office wasn't legally enforcing the deal but could shut down factories without a warrant if it felt the move necessary.
The move could be catastrophic, according to Wong. While Meizu itself wouldn't be unrecoverable, many of the resellers would supposedly go out of busineess without the M8 being available. The new M9 could also be delayed further if a factory shut down and has been already pegged now for December.
Wong threatened to bring a court case to disuade Apple from using the IPO as a pressuring tool. Apple hadn't commented on the subject.
It's unclear how much of an argument Meizu may have against the iPhone creator. The interface for the M8 significantly differentiated itself from the iPhone in the time since the phone was released, but Meizu hasn't been shy to reveal that it's borrowing from Apple. The M8 was rapidly drawn in mockup form just weeks after the original iPhone was unveiled in January 2007, and the finished late 2008 design looked similar to the then-current iPhone 3G. Meizu has since switched to Android and is differentiating the UI once more to break away from both Apple and Google.
The company has had a history of overtly copying Apple; many of its early MP3 players deliberately played on the look of the fifth-generation iPod and the original iPod nano. For that reason as well as its relative size, Meizu has never officially sold devices in the US and has usually catered to Asia and Europe outside of its home territory. [via MeizuMe]