Apple has won a partial court victory against Chinese copycat Xiaomi. Apple was able to block the Chinese firm from registering their iPad clone, “Mi Pad” mobile device as a European Union trademark, as the name was too similar to Apple’s popular iPad.
The European Union’s second-highest court, the General Court, ruled that Mi Pad should not be registered as a trademark because consumers were likely to be confused by the similarity of the signs.
Xiaomi’s Mi Pad and Apple’s iPad are both tablet computers.
“The dissimilarity between the signs at issue, resulting from the presence of the additional letter ‘m’ at the beginning of ”Mi Pad“, is not sufficient to offset the high degree of visual and phonetic similarity between the two signs,” the Court said in a statement.
Xiaomi filed a 2014 application with the EU Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) to register Mi Pad as an EU trademark. That triggered a complaint by Apple that the EUIPO upheld in 2016. The EUIPO ruled consumers might believe the Mi Pad was a variation on Apple’s iPad trademark.
The ruling does not prevent Xiaomi from using the name in Europe and elsewhere, it merely prevents the name from being registered as a European trademark. Xiaomi can appeal the ruling to the Court of Justice of the European Union, the EU equivalent of the US Supreme Court.