Iphone can be a handbag, Chinese court says in Apple case

BEIJING: A Chinese court has ruled against Apple in a case it brought against a small maker of “iphone”-branded leather goods, state media reported.

Manufacturer Xintong Tiandi registered the word as a trademark for use on leather goods in 2007 and has been producing wallets, handbags and phone cases emblazoned with it ever since.

Intellectual property rights have long been a bone of contention between Western countries and China, where counterfeiting is rife.

Apple has used the “i-” prefix for years and spends vast sums on marketing around the world. Its first iPhones were produced in 2007, but the wildly popular device was not first officially sold in China until 2009.

The firm took Xintong Tiandi to China’s trademark commission in 2012 and then to court, losing the initial case the following year.

On appeal the Beijing municipal higher people’s court ruled Apple had failed to prove that the iPhone brand was “familiar to the public and widely known” in China before the leather company registered it, the People’s Daily newspaper, the official mouthpiece of the Communist Party, reported Wednesday.

As such Xintong Tiandi did not violate the country’s trademark law, it said.-APP