A CHINESE handbag company has won a legal battle with technology giant Apple Inc. over the company’s trademark ‘IPHONE’ name, a Beijing court has ruled.
The Beijing Municipal Higher People’s Court ruled Apple failed to prove the name ‘IPHONE’ was well-known enough throughout China before local company Xintong Tiandi Technology applied for a trademark with that name in 2007.
Xintong Tiandi manufactures leather products, including handbags and phone cases, with the word ‘IPHONE’ emblazoned on their wares.
Phone cases made by Xintong Tiandi Technology emblazoned with the name ‘IPHONE’.
According to the Computer Network (CNet), Apple filed for trademark of the word in 2002, but only began its legal battle with the local company in 2012.
The court made its decision based on the fact that Apple didn’t start selling its popular iPhones in mainland China until 2009, echoing the decision made in 2013.
The judgement does not differentiate between Apple’s distinctive use of a lower-case ‘i’ and Xintong’s upper-case ‘I’, referring to both names as ‘IPHONE’, reports Quartz.
Xintong Tiandi reportedly wrote on its website that the court’s decision was a reflection of a “free market”, and expressed a desire to work with Apple to “benefit more iPhone consumers”.
This is the second trademark battle Apple has lost in China – in 2013, the Californian company paid $60m to settle a dispute over the iPad name.
Apple said it bought the global rights to the iPad name in 2009, but Chinese authorities claimed the rights were never transferred to the country.
The legal blow to Apple comes two weeks after the company’s iTunes Movies and iBooks services became unavailable in China, six months after they were launched in the country.
According to the New York Times, a Chinese regulator – the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film, and Television – exerted its authority and demanded have the services removed.
Additional reporting by Associated Press