Apple Loses Exclusive Use Of ’iPhone’ Name In China, Paves Way For IPHONE Purses And Wallets

Much to the chagrin of Apple. a Chinese court has ruled against the company's trademark infringement claim in a case it brought against a seller of luxury leather accessories. The ruling allows Xintong Tiandi Technology to continue using the "IPHONE" name, which it displays in all caps, on things like smartphone cases, wallets, and purses.

The good news for Apple is that it retains its trademark for mobile devices, so it doesn't have to worry about an iPhone knockoff, or at least not a legal one with the iPhone branding. Apple can also appeal the decision to the Supreme People's Court in Beijing, though so far it hasn't had the best of luck with trademark disputes in China.


Xintong Tiandi registered the IPHONE trademark in 2007 for leather goods and has been using it ever since. At the time of the registration, Apple wasn't selling its iPhones in China and wouldn't for another two years. Then in 2012, Apple filed a suit against Xintong Tiandi seeking to prevent it from using the IPHONE name. The court ruled against Apple in 2013, and this latest decision upholds that ruling.

This isn't the first time Apple has lost a trademark battle in China for a product name it created. Back in 2012, Apple was ordered to pay $60 million to Proview International Holdings Ltd. to settle a dispute over the iPad name. Proview owned the name in China after having registered the iPad trademark in 2001.

Whether or not Apple appeals this decision and goes on to win or lose, the ultimate outcome isn't likely to have much impact on the company's bottom line. Apple has bigger concerns at the moment, like reinvigorating iPhone sales. During Apple's fiscal second quarter of 2016, year-over-year iPhone sales dropped for the first time ever, leading to its first revenue decline in 13 years.