Apple has lost the right to the exclusive name of the iPhone trademark in China after the Beijing Municipal High People’s Court ruled against the company. Apple retains the right to the trademark for electronic goods, but a local company that has been using the name for leather goods remains able to do so.

The ruling was reported by Legal Daily, which the BBC says ‘is widely recognised as the official mouthpiece for the country’s Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission.’

The trademark dispute over the iPhone trademark has been a long-running one in the country …

Apple first applied for the trademark in the electronic goods category in 2002 – some five years before the launch of the iPhone itself – but it was not granted at that time. Chinese company Xintong Tiandi Technology (XTT) then applied for the trademark in leather goods in 2007, and it was granted in 2010.

Apple appealed in 2012, but had the appeal denied on the basis that the company could not show that iPhone was a well-known brand in China in 2007, when XTT filed its claim. Apple appealed to the high court, which again rejected it on the basis that iPhones weren’t sold in China until 2009, some two years after XTT’s application.

It’s not the first time that the iPhone trademark has proven problematic overseas. Apple lost the right for local carriers to use the iPhone name in Mexico back in 2014 because a local company had trademarked iFone in 2003. It also faced a trademark battle in India the same year, where a local company claimed confusion with its own brand, iFon.

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Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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