Apple is not happy to lose its exclusive trademark rights for the iPhone brand name in China, after the Beijing Municipal High People's Court ruled in favor of Xintong Tiandi Technology (XTT) using the label "IPHONE" on its leather goods.
The iPhone is Apple's flagship device and its most popular product in mainland China, which is an important factor because China is the biggest smartphone market in the world.
"Apple is disappointed the Beijing High People's Court chose to allow Xintong to use the IPHONE mark for leather goods when we have prevailed in several other cases against Xintong," said Josh Rosenstock, a spokesman for Apple, China Daily reported. "We intend to request a retrial with the Supreme People's Court and will continue to vigorously protect our trademark rights."
XTT applauded the ruling and even announced the company's "victory" on its website. The translated version of the page says that from now on iPhone is not only a mobile phone and not "exclusive to Apple's home."
Tech Times reported that the Chinese trademark regulator said in a 2013 ruling that Apple failed to prove that "IPHONE" was a renowned name in the mainland prior to Xintong Tiandi's registration of the trademark. Apple claimed it already trademarked the name for its electronics in 2002, while XTT filed a patent to register the name "IPHONE" in 2007.
However, it was only in 2009 when the iPhone first hit stores in mainland China. The court also didn't take note of the small "i" in the name of Apple's handset.
Apple now has 11.3 percent of the total market share in China, with more than 49 million iPhones sold. It follows the lead of local rivals Huawei and Xiaomi.
XTT's leather goods range from folder-sized bags to purses, card holders and even key keepers. All of them bear the trademark "IPHONE," which is a bit different to Apple's iPhone in terms of the first letter on each trademark and how XTT used all capital letters.
Perhaps the China-based leather goods maker plans to take its achievement to the next level, as it hinted at plans to join the Swedish fashion designer GALO in a grand exhibition business. When that happens, more products with either "iPhone" or "IPHONE" labels may just become a familiar sight among shopping enthusiasts.