In a statement, Apple has said that it will appeal a Chinese trademark ruling which saw the company lose exclusive rights to the iPhone name, allowing other Chinese companies to use the name for leather goods products. Obviously, the iPhone is Apple’s cash cow so the initial ruling was a big blow allowing legal dilution of its most-valuable brand.

Apple will take the appeal to the Supreme People’s court, the highest court in the Chinese law system …

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Apple says it is disappointed in the initial ruling given the company has successfully defended its rights in other cases with Xintong, which manufactures the ‘IPHONE’ bags (like the one pictured above).

The iPhone name has been the subject of many trademark trials in China, with XTT filing a trademark to the iPhone name for leather goods in 2007.

Here’s what Apple said on the ruling regarding its intention to appeal:

“We intend to request a retrial with the Supreme People’s Court and will continue to vigorously protect our trademark rights,” Apple said in a statement sent to the South China Morning Post.

“Apple is disappointed the Beijing Higher 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,” the Apple statement said.

Apple previously lost appeal cases as the Chinese government ruled the iPhone brand was not well-known in the region when Xintong originally filed its claim. Although the iPhone was introduced to the world in 2007, it did not launch in China until 2009.

Protecting its smartphone trademark rights is crucial for Apple in any country, perhaps even more so in the Chinese region where the company is currently leaning on for sales growth opportunities as iPhone sales slump in the rest of the world. Whether Apple will win the new appeal is unclear but will no doubt result in protracted legal disputes for some time yet.

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