Apple loses exclusive rights to “iPhone” trademark name in China

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Date: Tuesday, May 3rd, 2016, 13:37
Category: iPhone, Legal, News


Well, this is a bit awkward.

In a strange turn of events, Apple has lost exclusive rights to the “iPhone” name in China thanks to losing a trademark suit against a Chinese company which now holds the right to make and sell handbags and other leather products branded “IPHONE.”

The Beijing Municipal High People’s Court rejected Apple’s appeal of the trademark dispute against Xintong Tiandi Technology (Beijing) Co., Ltd. on Mar. 31, state media Legal Daily reported. The final judgement allows the Beijing company to brand leather products including handbags, purses, and cellphone and passport cases with the name “IPHONE.”

Xintong Tiandi registered the “IPHONE” trademark to make leather products back in 2007, about five years after Apple registered the same name in China for computer software and hardware. Apple first took the case to the Chinese trademark authority in 2012, and then filed a lawsuit in a lower Beijing court. But both the trademark authority and an earlier court ruled against Apple.

Per a 2013 ruling from the Chinese trademark authority, because Apple couldn’t prove that “IPHONE” was already a well-known trademark in China before Xintong Tiandi registered it in 2007, “the general public will not link the trademark in dispute with Apple to harm its [Apple’s] interests.”

The Beijing Municipal High People’s Court’s final judgement backs that decision, and notes that iPhone was first sold in mainland China in 2009. The judgement makes no distinction between Apple’s lower-case “i” in the brand and Xintong’s uppercase “I,” referring to both company’s brands as “IPHONE.”

Apple has yet to reply to a request for comment.

This isn’t the first time where Apple has lost a trademark dispute in China. In 2012, a court ruled Apple should pay $60 million to a Shenzhen tech firm to end a dispute over the iPad name.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Via Quartz

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