When is an iPhone not an iPhone?- When it's a handbag

The technological giant, Apple, has met its match in a Chinese handbag company who has won the battle to keep their iPhone trademark in China. The triumphant Beijing firm Xintong Tiandi received their trademark for leather goods in China in 2010, whereas Apple were only granted the trademark rights for their electrical goods in 2013 despite filing their trademark application in 2002.

Apple decided to take on the Chinese company since they retail handbags and phone cases  imprinted with the iPhone brand. However, all of the Chinese legal authorities appealed to by the technological giant ruled in favour of Xintong Tiandi stating that it was a well-known brand in China before Apple was. Although Apple had applied for their trademark first, they didn’t actually launch their product into the Chinese market until 2009, by which time the handbag company had been selling their products for two years.

Since Apple’s trademark application for the Chinese market, (filed in 2002), only included electrical goods and not leather goods, perhaps they did not anticipate that they would need a trademark for leather goods in the future, hence the current dispute. This turn of events particularly highlights the fact that businesses should plan their Trademark portfolios based on long term business projects rather than their current activity. However, the battle is not yet over as  Apple has chosen to appeal this decision at China’s Supreme Court so we shall have to wait to hear the final outcome.

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