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Apple loses bizarre iPhone trademark battle in China


"But... are you kidding?!"

This is the short, censored version of how we imagine Apple's legal department reacted upon hearing that it had lost a Chinese trademark in case, meaning a firm that makes leather goods can continue to use the name 'iPhone'. 

Back in 2010, Xintong Tiandi Technology trademarked 'IPHONE' for leather products in China - branding goods including wallets and belts with 'IPHONE' and - confusingly - the 'R' registered trademark symbol.

Apple had filed for the iPhone name in electronics goods back in 2002, but wasn't granted the patent until 2013 - some four years after the first iPhone went on sale in China, in 2009. Apple first lodged a legal complaint with the Chinese trademark authorities in 2012, but had its claim rejected. A lower Bejing court also dismissed the claims.

The US company then appealed to a higher court, but as the Chinese legal site Legal Daily reports, because Apple couldn't prove it was a well-known brand in China before Xintong Tiandi filed its trademark application in 2007, it had no grounds to overrule the trademark. As 'iPhone' wasn't a well-known product among the Chinese public before 2009, Xintong Tiandi Technology had every right to file a trademark. 

It's all a bit rotten for Apple of late: the trademark loss follows a recent financial report that indicated a drop in revenues (largely down to a fall in Chinese sales of 26 per cent), prompting billionaire investor Carl Icahn to sell his shares in the company.

Maybe we'll buy them a handmade iPhone wallet to cheer them up...



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