Apple loses lawsuit over iPhone name

Beijing, May 4

Apple Inc has lost a battle for the use of the ‘iPhone’ trademark on leather goods in China after a Beijing court ruled against the world’s biggest technology company in favour of a local firm, state media reported.

The Beijing Municipal High People’s Court said Xintong Tiandi can continue to use the phrase ‘iPhone’ on its leather goods, as per Legal Daily, official newspaper of China’s Justice Ministry.

Apple declined to comment.

The US tech supremo has repeatedly found itself tangled in intellectual property disputes in China where sheer number of firms means trademarks are often taken by little-known players. Some enterprising firms are quick to snap up trademarks that are known overseas but not registered locally, in the hope of a pay-off down the line.

In 2002, Apple applied for the ‘iPhone’ trademark for computer hardware and software in China, but that was only approved in 2013.

Xintong Tiandi created its trademark for leather goods in 2007, the first year Apple’s iPhone went on sale. The US firm has been disputing the Chinese firm’s intellectual property rights since 2012.

The Beijing court dismissed Apple’s appeal, saying it could not prove ‘iPhone’ brand was well-known in China before 2009, when it first started selling the handsets on mainland.