In China, you can now find an iPhone at a very low price, but the only different thing is that it may not be a phone at all. This is because a Chinese firm has won the right to use the iPhone trademark for selling its goods after years of going back and forth in arguments with Apple. This case is just another one that’s focused on names that have become well-established and recognized in other parts of the world, but have had to struggle to gain control in the Chinese market. One such example is that of Michael Jordan, the basketball star and New Balance, the shoe brand.
Xintong Tiandi, the Chinese company applied for the iPhone trademark in 2007 just after the first iPhone had been released by Apple Inc. Even though Apple had applied for the rights of the trademark in 2002, it was Xintong Tiandi that was able to get the iPhone trademark approved for leather goods before the US tech giant. There are a range of letter product that the Chinese company offers, which include passport holders, pen cases, wallets and handbags and they are all stamped with ‘iPhone’. The unique thing is that none of these products are phones. However, a news release was issued by the company in the previous week where it showed a leather iPad case titled ‘iPhone’.
In this news release, it was asserted by the Chinese firm said that this victory in court marks a huge victory for the company and it would do all it can for protecting the iPhone trademark. It also added that they were willing to work with the US technology giant, if needed. The problem is that Apple may not share the same sentiment. A statement was made by the Silicon Valley company on Wednesday in which it expressed its disappointment at the decision of the court to allow Xintong to use the iPhone trademark for leather products even though Apple had prevailed over the company in other cases.
The company also said that they would be asking for a retrial in order to protect their trademark rights vigorously. While the approach taken by the Chinese company is most definitely perplexing, it is a testament to the recognition and power held by Apple’s name in China. The iPhone brand is a reference to the middle and upper class status in the country and the people are expected to pay for a leather product that boasts the iPhone trademark in a way to show they have made it.
A high court in the Beijing municipality made the iPhone ruling and it is just one of the horde of high profile piracy and trademark cases in China. There are a huge number of factories in China have made it the world’s workshop and it is able to imitate products and pump them out for making a quick profit. A first-to-file trademark system provides these factories with assistance as third parties are allowed to register trademarks that are copies of well-known brands.