Apple Loses “iPhone” Copyright Battle Vs. Chinese Company Highlighting China's Trademark Law
May 10, 2016 09:20 AM EDT
Apple Inc. lost its recent copyright battle over the right to the "iPhone" name against Xintong Tiandi Technology (Beijing) Co. highlighting the country's Trademark Law. The multinational technology company suffered another legal setback after the Beijing Municipal High People's Court ruled in favour of the China-based company.
According to FT.com, the courtroom battle over the "iPhone" name yielded over to China after a Beijing court ruled that its use for certain leather accessories sold in the country by another company may continue. Apple tried to stop Xintong Tiandi Technology from using its trademark name on their products but to no avail since the recent ruling stated that Xintong could use the name on its wallets and purses since the China-based company held a Class 18 trademark covering leather and imitation leather goods.
It was also reported that Apple revealed that its iPhone sales in China, one of the company's largest growth sector, had its first quarterly revenue decline in 13 years. According to another article on China Law Blog, Apple reported a 26% drop in sales in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
Apple may have won out on other cases against Xintong, it failed to do so for the use of its name on the Chinese company's leather goods. Apple said, "We intend to request a retrial with the Supreme People's Court and will continue to vigorously protect our trademark rights."
On October 2002, Apple submitted a trademark application for "iPhone" and received its registration on November 2003. However, the company's application was only then approved in 2013. Their application only covered Class 9 products that included computer software and computer hardware.
Meanwhile, Xintong reportedly first submitted a trademark application for "iPhone" on September 2007 for Trademark Class 18, specifically for "imitation leather, leather, wallets, purses, leather thread, leather passport wallets, leather key cases, leather straps and leather trimmings for furniture".
According to CNBC, Apple intends to take the lawsuit to China's highest court. The technology giant said in a statement, "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's recent court battle with Xintong over a trademark name was reminiscent of the US company's fight over the "iPad" name with another China-based company Proview Technology (Shenzhen). The 2012 case resulted in a payout of $60 million to Proview in order to settle the dispute over the right to use the "iPad" name in the country.