Apple Sued By Chinese Chemical Company Over Snow Leopard Trademark

Apple Sued By Chinese Chemical Company Over Snow Leopard Trademark

Are you confused by the difference between a toilet cleaning compound and the Mac’s operating system?

Now that Apple has paid $60 million to end a thuggish extortion attempt on the part of China’s Proview over the iPad trademark, it looks like at least one additional Chinese trademark troll is coming out of the woodwork, looking for a payday. This time, however, it’s a dispute over a product Apple doesn’t even sell anymore: OS X Snow Leopard.

A court in Shanghai has just agreed to hear a trademark lawsuit case on July 10th filed by Chinese chemical company, Jiangsu Xuebao. At stake is the Snow Leopard trademark, which Jiangsue Xuebao has owned for the last ten years and used to market a line of gadgets.

According to Jiangsu Xuebao, Apple’s use of Snow Leopard for the name of its operating system is a violation of their trademark, and they want over $80,000 in damages, as well as an official apology from Apple. And they’re not stopping there: they’re also suing Chinese companies who have advertised or sold Snow Leopard to customers.

Even if Jiangsu Xuebao does own the trademark for Snow Leopard in China, experts seem to think that the Chinese chemical company’s chances at victory here are pretty low. Not only Apple can afford to put up a fight, but Jiagnsu Xuebao is a company better known for making toothpaste and toilet cleaning chemicals than operating systems. How much confusion could there really be?

  • Tseug

    Kind of crazy how the name of an animal species can be trademarked. That’s like trademarking “Labrador Retriever”, so nobody else can use that combination of 2 words. Copyright is odd that way.

  • zviivz

    They know very well that there’s no way they could win. I figure it’s just a marketing stunt.

  • joewaylo

    $80,000 is chunk change to Apple. I’m sure the case will be dismissed right away or paid off right away. The fact that ProView won against Apple for the iPad name just shows how easy they can get away with this case.

  • technochick

    They know very well that there’s no way they could win. I figure it’s just a marketing stunt.

    Yep. Trademarks are market specific.

  • technochick

    They know very well that there’s no way they could win. I figure it’s just a marketing stunt.

    Yep. Trademarks are market specific.

  • Atienne

    and the slime oozes out of the cracks… here we go again…..

  • Alfred2612

    Kind of crazy how the name of an animal species can be trademarked. That’s like trademarking “Labrador Retriever”, so nobody else can use that combination of 2 words. Copyright is odd that way.

    In the EU and the United States (as far as I know) you can’t trademark an animal species as it’s a generic name. You can only trademark it if it’s attached to something else. So, while the words “Labrador Retriever” cannot be trademarked, “Labrador Retriever Toothpaste” can be.

    But if Chinese trademark laws DO allow generic names to be registered, then Apple may have a problem. However, I would be surprized if they do.

    P.S. Trademarks and copyright are two related, but separate, things. This case it does not involve copyright, only trademarks.

  • Alfred2612

    How madly ironic is this. From the country of the Rip off kings, they bitch about this?

    Good point! :)

  • gnomehole

    Kr00 – I could not have said it better myself.

  • Excalibear2

    there is no case for international trademark. As it has been pointed out, either Apple should sell Snow Leopard toothpaste or the Chinese company should make software, neither of which is true. Now, there may be some local bizarre laws in some parts of China but I doubt it. I agree is probably just a publicity stunt.

About the author

John BrownleeJohn Brownlee is a Contributing Editor. He has also written for Wired, Playboy, Boing Boing, Popular Mechanics, VentureBeat, and Gizmodo. He lives in Boston with his wife and two parakeets. You can follow him here on Twitter.

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