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Friday, March 29, 2013, 06:48 am PT (09:48 am ET)

State-owned Chinese film studio sues Apple for $500,000 over App Store downloads

Tensions between Apple and China's government appeared to mount on Friday, with news emerging of a state-owned film production company having filed suit against the iPhone maker, seeking just over half a million dollars in damages.

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Shanghai Animation is suing Apple, alleging improper downloads of films such as The Monkey King, pictured above.


Shanghai Animation Film Studio, the studio behind popular animated films such as The Monkey King, claims Apple has infringed its intellectual property rights by providing unauthorized download services in the App Store. The South China Morning Post reports (via Hollywood Reporter) that the suit was filed with the Beijing No. 2 Intermediate People's Court, and that the court accepted the case.

The suit names Apple and its Chinese subsidiary, Apple Electronics Products Commerce (Beijing), as defendants claiming that they infringed on more than 110 of Shanghai Animation's titles, including Calabash Brothers and Black Cat Detective.

Shanghai Animation executives aren't saying much about the case.

"We want to keep tight-lipped on this case because, as we see it, it's just a litigation in which we want to get compensation [for our product]," one executive told South China Morning Post. "It's a sensitive period now since Apple is a big multinational company and it is surrounded by controversies on its practices in China."

The new case comes shortly after the Chinese government began ratcheting up pressure on Apple over its warranty policies. On Thursday, reports emerged that China's State Administration for Industry and Commerce had recommended that authorities take action against Apple over its after-sales service.

The recommendation had no specifics on what Apple had done wrong or how to fix its situation. It came, though, at the end of more than a week of reportedly coordinated attacks on Apple's image from government-connected sources.

Earlier this week, Apple made its first appearance in a Chinese court, this time on the receiving end of a patent suit. Another Chinese company alleges that Apple's Siri digital assistant infringes on patents that it has held since 2006.