Apple loses lawsuit over 'iPhone' in China

5 May 2016 | By Ramya

Apple Inc lost a lawsuit with a China-based company Xintong Tiandi Technology as a Beijing court allowed the Chinese company to use the name 'IPHONE' on its products.

The court ruled that the Chinese company, which prints 'IPHONE' on its mobile cases, wallets and handbags, had applied for a trademark even before Apple.

Apple stated that it would request a retrial of the case.

In context: Apple's trademark battle in China

2002-13 Introduction: Timeline of events

2002: Apple applied for a trademark on 'iPhone' for electronic and software-related goods in China.

2007: Xintong Tiandi-a Chinese leather products' manufacturer applied for registering 'IPHONE' as a trademark and started using it (1st Generation iPhones launched in the US around this time).

2009: First generation iPhone devices officially sold in China.

2013: China's Trademark Commission granted Apple the trademark for its electronic goods.

2012-13 Apple files lawsuit against Chinese firm

In 2012, Apple filed a case against Xintong Tiandi and challenged the Chinese firm over its usage of Apple's 'iPhone' mobile brand on its leather products.

Apple took Xintong Tiandi to the Trademark Commission of China, and later dragged it to court; Apple lost the initial case in 2013.

Upon Apple's appeal, a court ruled that Apple failed to prove iPhone's familiarity in China.

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Chinese law might limit usage of 'iPhone'

A Chinese legal newspaper stated that Apple failed to prove that iPhone was famous in China before Xintong Tiandi applied for a trademark. Chinese law says that such status might limit the copyrighted name’s usage on other products.
Apple faces several issues in China

Apr 2016Apple faces several issues in China

China is Apple's second-largest market after the US; however, Apple's Chinese-sales decreased by 26% in 2016 when compared to sales of earlier years.

Reportedly, iBooks and iTunes services had been shut down in Apr'16 on the demand of the state censors and targeted by state-run media over servicing and pricing issues.

However, Apple had stated that they were hopeful to resume the services soon.

Chinese court allowed local company to use 'IPHONE'

In Apr’16, a court’s ruling had allowed Xintong Tiandi Technology to continue using ‘IPHONE’ name on their leather items. It was published in China’s Legal Daily, a paper issued by the Legal Affairs Committee of the ruling Communist Party.

5 May 2016Apple loses lawsuit over 'iPhone' in China

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5 May 2016Xintong Tiandi violates no copyright law: Court

The Chinese court that has ruled against Apple in the case against Xintong Tiandi stated that the local firm doesn't violate any copyright law of the country.

The local firm Xintong Tiandi stated that the 'iPhone' brand can blossom widely outside Apple, in a post on its website.

It added that to bring clarity to the iPhone community they would use the all-caps 'IPHONE'.

Customers' experience shouldn't be compromised

After the court had pronounced its verdict, Apple stated, "We work hard to make the best products in the world and want to ensure our customers' experience is not compromised by companies who try to profit from using our brand."