Apple Loses Lawsuit Over iPhone Name In China

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APPLE STORE SHANGHAI
Consumers queue up outside an Apple Store as Apple launches its iPhone SE globally on Thursday on March 31, 2016 in Shanghai, China. Apple Inc. has lost a legal fight with a Chinese company that a Beijing court says is allowed to use the iPhone name on wallets and handbags. | VCG via Getty Images
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BEIJING — Apple Inc. has lost a legal fight with a Chinese company that a Beijing court says is allowed to use the iPhone name on wallets and handbags.

The court said Apple failed to prove iPhone was a "famous brand'' in China before the local company applied for a trademark in 2007, an official legal newspaper reported. Such status under Chinese law might limit its use on other products.

The ruling in late April allows Xintong Tiandi Technology to keep using the iPhone name, according to the Legal Daily, which is published by the ruling Communist Party's legal affairs committee. The company registered the name for use on handbags, mobile phone cases and other leather goods.

Phone calls to the Beijing Higher Level People's Court were not answered. In a statement, Apple said it will request a retrial and added that it has prevailed in other cases against Xintong Tiandi.

"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,'' Apple said in its statement.

iphone beijing
Sales staff welcome the customers to buy iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus at an Apple store in Beijing, October 17, 2014. (REUTERS/Jason Lee)

China is Apple's second-biggest market after the United States, though first-quarter sales in the Greater China region fell 26 per cent from a year earlier. Apple's iTunes and iBooks services also have been suspended in China, though the company said last month it hopes to resume operation soon.

Apple applied to trademark iPhone for computer- and software-related goods in 2002, according to the Legal Daily.

Xintong Tiandi applied to use the name on wallets and leather goods two years before Apple's smartphones went on sale in China in 2009, it said.

Apple filed suit in 2012 challenging the Chinese company's use of the name.

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