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Apple loses monopoly over the word 'iPhone' in China

Written by Thomas Mould on 10 May 2016

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Apple has now lost its monopoly in word ‘iPhone’ which has been allowed to be used by a handbag and leather goods maker in China.

The Beijing Municipal Higher People’s Court of Final Appeal ruled against Apple in a recent lawsuit.

Apple was battling Beijing-based Xintong Tiandi, which sells leather goods like smartphone cases and handbags under the name “IPHONE.” The Court ruled in Xintong Tiandi Technology’s favour.

History

In 2002, Apple applied for the “iPhone” trade mark in China (which was not granted until 2013). Five years earlier, in 2007 (the same year the iPhone launched), Xintong Tiandi filed for its own “IPHONE” trade mark. Xintong Tiandi was granted the trademark in the area of “Leather goods” in 2010

Apple first sued in 2012, but the Chinese courts ruled against the company, claiming that since the iPhone wasn’t actually sold in mainland China until 2009, it couldn’t prove that “iPhone” was a well-known trade name.

And now the appellate court agrees. Which means that Xintong Tiandi can continue to sell leather goods embossed with the “IPHONE” brand.

Apple is disappointed (as you can imagine) that the Beijing Higher People’s Court chose to allow Xintong to use the IPHONE mark for leather goods when we have prevailed in several other cases against Xintong. We intend to request a retrial with the Supreme People's Court and will continue to vigorously protect our trade mark rights.

We work hard to make the best products in the world and want to ensure our customers' experience is not compromised by companies who try to profit from using our brand.

It should be noted that Xintong is only able to use the "IPHONE" trade mark on leather goods. It cannot use the mark for electronics, including phones. 

If you'd like to know more about this article please send an email to Thomas Mould quoting the article title and any questions you might have, alternatively call the office number on 02380 235 979 or send an enquiry through our contact form.

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