Apple has lost the exclusive rights to the iPhone name in China, following a long-running dispute with a local company over the name. The Beijing Municipal High People’s Court ruled against the company, allowing it to retain the trademark for electronic goods, while Chinese company Xintong Tiandi Technology (XTT) retains it for use with leather goods.
Apple first applied for the iPhone trademark in China for the electronic goods category in 2002, five years before the actual debut of the first iPhone. However, the trademark was not granted at that time. XTT applied for the trademark in leather goods in 2007, and it was granted in 2010.
Although Apple appealed in 2012, the appeal was denied on the grounds that the company couldn’t prove the iPhone was a well known brand in 2007, when XTT had filed its trademark claim. Apple appealed the ruling, but was rejected again by a high court that ruled that iPhones were not sold in China until 2009, two years after XTT’s application for the trademark.
Apple has run into similar trademark issues in other countries, facing a 2014 trademark battle for the iPhone name in Mexico, where the company lost a battle to allow local carriers to use the iPhone name, due to a local company’s trademarking of “iFone” in 2003. Apple also fought for the iPhone trademark in India that same year, battling a local company that claimed the iPhone name caused confusion with its own “iFon” brand.