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Apple loses bizarre iPhone trademark battle in China

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David Cornish
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"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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David Cornish

Shortlist.com’s esteemed Tech Editor. David has a keen interest in video games, Star Wars and stuff that runs on batteries.

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