Trade mark and patent infringement defeats for Apple

Print publication


Apple has a lost a trade mark dispute in China concerning the mark IPHONE.

The defendant in the proceedings, a Chinese company Xintong Tiandi, has been the registered proprietor of the mark IPHONE in respect of leather goods in China since 2010. Apple’s application for registration of the mark IPHONE in China was not approved until 2013.

Apple’s grievance is that the defendant is using the mark on mobile phone cases as well as other leather goods branded with the IPHONE name, close to Apple’s IPhone mark.

However, the Beijing Municipal High People’s Court ruled against Apple, finding that Apple had not shown that it was a well-known brand in 2007 when Xintong Tiandi filed its trade mark application. Apple did not start selling iPhones in China until 2009.

Apple has said it intends to appeal.

Separately, and again disappointingly for Apple, an East Texas jury Has ruled that the company must pay a patent-holding company, Virnet X, US $625.6 million for patent infringement.

That decision has attracted considerable criticism, with VirnetX which derives its income from the aggressive pursuit of patent litigation, being labelled a “patent troll”, whose activities stifle innovation. Reportedly almost half of US patent suits originate in East Texas, owing to a perception that the judges are more favourably disposed towards patent proprietors than is the case elsewhere in the States.