Apple loses iPhone trademark case in China

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Apple loses iPhone trademark case in China

Court rules brand wasn't well known before 2009.

Apple has lost a legal battle over the use of the "iPhone" trademark on leather goods in China after a Beijing court ruled against the world's biggest technology company in favour of a local firm.  

The Beijing Municipal High People's Court said local firm Xintong Tiandi can continue to use the phrase "iPhone" on its leather goods, according to state-owned media outlet the Legal Daily, which is the official newspaper of China's Justice Ministry.  

In 2002, Apple applied for the "iPhone" trademark for computer hardware and software in China, but that was only approved in 2013. 

Xintong Tiandi registered its trademark for leather goods in 2007, the first year Apple's iPhone went on sale. The US firm has been disputing the Chinese firm's intellectual property rights since 2012. 

The Beijing court dismissed Apple's appeal, saying the tech giant could not prove the "iPhone" brand was well-known in China before 2009, when it first started selling the handsets on the mainland.  

"We intend to request a retrial with the Supreme People's Court and will continue to vigorously protect our trademark rights," Apple said in a statement.  

The US tech company has repeatedly found itself tangled in intellectual property disputes in China where the sheer number of companies means trademarks are often taken by little-known players.  

Some enterprising firms are quick to snap up trademarks that are known overseas but not registered locally in the hope of a pay-off down the line.  

In 2012, Apple paid $60 million to end a protracted legal dispute over the iPad trademark in China, which had hampered some sales and delayed the introduction of a new iPad in the country.


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