Apple China loses trademark fight

A small firm that sells handbags and other leather goods has won a trademark fight with US tech giant Apple China.

A Beijing court has ruled that Xintong Tiandi Technology can keep using the name Iphone for its leather products, the official Legal Daily newspaper reports. The company registered the trademark in 2010.

Apple filed a trademark bid for the name for electronic goods in 2002, but this was not approved until 2013.

“Apple is disappointed 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,” says an Apple spokesman. “We intend to request a retrial… and will continue to vigorously protect our trademark rights.”

The Chinese firm’s products include leather phone cases, and its leather goods are branded “IPHONE” with a registered trademark symbol.

iPhone leather China 1

Apple first brought the case against the company to the Chinese trademark authority in 2012. When that failed, Apple filed a lawsuit in a lower Beijing court. That also ruled against Apple, which then appealed to the higher court.

In its ruling, the higher court said Apple could not prove it was a well-known brand in China before Xintong Tiandi filed its trademark application in 2007 (Apple iPhones first went on sale in China in 2009).

Meanwhile, Apple’s latest results show a 13 per cent drop in revenue on slower iPhone sales. Sales in China, its second-biggest market, plunged by 26 per cent.

Apple also faces other difficulties in China. In March, Beijing passed a law requiring all content shown in China to be stored on servers based on the Chinese Mainland. As a result, Apple’s iBooks and iTunes services were shut down in China. Apple is hoping access to the services will be restored soon.

Billionaire investor Carl Icahn has just sold all his shares in Apple over concerns about the technology firm’s prospects in China.

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