Apple gains ground in China piracy battle with new patents

An Apple store in China.

Apple (s aapl) has some new ammunition with which to fight the rampant piracy of its products that is an ongoing problem in China. It was granted 40 patents in China, according to a new report Wednesday (via Reuters). The patents mostly cover aspects of its mobile phones, but they apply to 37 of Apple’s products in total, including the iPad and MacBook Air, and also to the architecture of its Shanghai stores.

The new patents will help Apple better defend its interests in China, where knock-off versions of its products are extremely popular. Its iPhone 5 has already spawned knock-offs, despite not yet even being officially announced. The patents related to architecture will also help make sure that Apple can more easily crack down on unauthorized retail stores that copy its distinctive architectural style, which are fairly rampant in China, it was revealed this summer.

Curbing gadget piracy isn’t the only potential application of these new patents. Apple is currently fighting a patent battle on many international fronts with other mobile phone makers. Most notably, it has active suits against Samsung in multiple countries across virtually every continent. Apple is also fighting HTC at the International Trade Commission and in a U.S. federal court in Delaware, and the Taiwanese company’s North Asia President, Jack Tong, told a press conference Wednesday that the company has “no question that HTC will definitely win.”

Patents secured by Apple in China could be used down the road to extend its own patent litigation efforts and defend against complaints levied by others, especially as China becomes a hotter market. Apple has seen very positive growth in the Chinese market, especially for its iPhone business, and these new patents could help it defend that emerging lead.