Court: Apple Has To Share The iPhone Name With Chinese Accessories Company

Image courtesy of Adam Fagen

A Chinese company that peddles purses and wallets bearing the IPHONE name has the right to keep selling those products, despite Apple’s efforts to keep the trademark all for itself.

The Beijing Municipal High People’s Court ruled in favor of Beijing Xingtong Tiandi Technology Co., which makes wallets, handbags, smartphone cases, and a plethora of other leather goods emblazoned with the word IPHONE, reports The Wall Street Journal.

The ruling upheld previous decisions in the ongoing legal saga between Apple and Xingtong. The court’s verdict found Apple failed to prove that the brand “iPhone” was famous in China before Xingtong applied for its trademark in 2007.

Though Apple first registered its iPhone trademark for computer-related products in China in 2002, according to state-run Legal Daily, those registrations only apply to specific categories of goods. When Apple registered iPhone, it didn’t register the name for leather goods.

Apple didn’t begin selling iPhones inside China until 2009 the accessories maker argued, and again, no one could get the two confused because Apple doesn’t sell purses.

Although no mobile devices besides Apple’s can be called iPhones, the ruling stymies the tech company’s quest to wholly own the name, at least, for now.

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

Apple Loses an iPhone Trademark Battle in China [The Wall Street Journal]

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