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Apple Loses iPhone Trademark Battle in Chinese Court

Among China's wealth of knockoff goods, one small local company just earned a huge victory over one of the most famous tech companies in the world.

In March, the Beijing Municipal High People's Court ruled in favor of Chinese outfit Beijing Xintong Tiandi Technology Company, which produces wallets, handbags, smartphone cases and other leather goods, allowing the firm to use the word “iPhone” on its products, reports the Wall Street Journal's China Real Time blog.

The trademark dispute – filed, of course, by American tech giant Apple – is not the first argument the company has taken up with Xintong Tiandi. On five previous occasions, Apple has filed – and won – disputes related to the iPhone brand against the Chinese firm.

In this case, however, state-run media reported the decision was a result of Apple's failure to prove that iPhone was a famous brand in China before 2007, when Xintong Tiandi applied for its iPhone trademark. Though Apple itself registered the iPhone trademark in China in 2002, it was only for computer-related goods, not leather bags, providing the Chinese company with a convenient loophole through which to file its own trademark paperwork on the name.

This may not be the end: Apple is planning to request a retrial with the Supreme People's Court, the highest court in China.

[Photo via iphonevc]

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