Apple has once again found itself on the receiving end of litigation in China, this time initiated by a state-owned animation studio, reports the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post.

According to the Post, Shanghai Animation Film Studio is suing Apple to the tune of 3.3 million yuan (around US$500,000), accusing the Cupertino company of selling its movies in the App Store without proper approval.

The film studio, responsible for animated movies such as The Monkey King, is suing both Apple Inc. and Beijing-based Apple Electronics Products Commerce, a Chinese subsidiary, accusing them of infringing its intellectual property (IP) rights and allowing unauthorized downloads of 110 films, including Calabash Brothers and Black Cat Detective.

The South China Morning Post quotes a senior Shanghai Animation Film Studio official as confirming the litigation had been filed with the Beijing No. 2 Intermediate People’s Court, though Apple – as you’d expect – didn’t comment.

“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],” the official reportedly says. “It’s a sensitive period now since Apple is a big multinational company and it is surrounded by controversies on its practices in China.”

Apple’s China woes

Apple has had a tumultuous time of it in China of late, particularly at the hands of the state-owned propaganda outlet The People’s Daily newspaper.

Earlier this week, a front-page article slammed Apple for declining journalists’ interview requests, accusing them of issuing an “empty and self-praising” response to a recent report by China’s national television broadcaster which accused Apple of skirting warranty periods.

In terms of litigation, however, Apple appeared in court for a pre-trial hearing earlier this week in the wake of patent-infringing accusations. Indeed, Shanghai’s Zhizhen Network Technology Co. claims that Apple infringed its voice-recognition software patent for Siri.

Prior to this, Apple ended its long-running China iPad trademark dispute with Proview last summer, then was swiftly followed by claims from a Taiwanese man that Apple’s video-calling service FaceTime infringed on a patent he holds. Then in September last year, a Chinese encyclopedia won $86,000 in a lawsuit against Apple in yet another App Store piracy case.

We’ve reached out to Apple for comment on this latest case, and will update here if or when we hear back.

Feature Image Credit – AFP/Getty