The Beijing Municipal High People’s Court, in its recent judgment has decided in favour of Xintong Tiandi, for the use of the phrase ‘IPHONE’ on its leather goods.
The Court held that the U.S Tech Giant was unable to prove of ‘iPhone’ being well known in the Country before 2009, which is when they rolled out their first handsets in China. The Court did not distinguish in lowercase ‘I’ in Apple’s ‘iphone’ and Tiandi’s upper case ‘I’ in IPHONE’. Chinese trademark laws often offer hiccups for western companies, as they have to prove that their brand name is also well-known in the China.
Apple applied for the ‘iphone’ trademark in the year 2002 for hardware and software in China, which was only registered in 2013. In 2010, the Chinese firm registered the phrase for its leather goods. Apple has been in an ongoing battle ever since. The present judgement is the affirmation of the 2013 decision of the Trademark Review and Adjudication Board(TRAB) and a subsequent appeals decision by the Beijing’s No1 Intermediate People’s Court. Where it was held that, “the general public will not link the trademark in dispute with Apple to harm its [Apple’s] interests.
Xintong Tiandi, manufactures phone and pad cases, handbags and other leather products with the trademarks of “IPHONE” closely resembling Apple’s ‘iPhone’.
Apple, in its statement has expressed their disappointment but has intended to file an appeal in the Supreme People’s Court against the Beijing Court’s decision.