Apple has confirmed that it will, unsurprisingly, fight against the Beijing Higher People’s Court’s decision to strip the company of its exclusive iPhone trademark — by allowing a Chinese company to sell leather purses, handbags, wallets, and smartphone cases bearing the iPhone name.
Because when you think iPhone you automatically think high-end leather goods, right?
“We intend to request a retrial with the Supreme People’s Court and will continue to vigorously protect our trademark rights,” Apple said in a statement sent to the South China Morning Post. It continues that it is “disappointed” by the ruling, which argued that despite Apple launching the iPhone in the U.S. before Xintong filed the trademark for iPhone-branded leather goods in 2007, the term wasn’t sufficiently well-known yet.
Apple didn’t register the “iPhone” trademark in China until 2012. That year the company was also forced to pay out $60 million to resolve a dispute over the iPad name with the Chinese company Proview.
Apple’s clash with Xintong comes at an important moment in Apple’s relationship with China. Tim Cook has been open about his belief that China will soon overtake the U.S. as the company’s biggest market, and has even admitted that new products are designed with the Chinese audience in mind.
However, in recent months there have been problems as the Chinese government overtly favors Chinese brands over Apple — even down to banning Apple products from official state-sanctioned purchases or stopping Apple from operating its iBooks Store and iTunes Movie store in the country. Will this present legal dispute be yet another strike against Apple’s plans in China? We’ll have to wait and see.