Trademark Lawsuit Controversies – A Case Of Apple and China

A trademark is a sign that serves to identify the goods or services of a specific and primary purpose of producer, thus allowing the consumers to distinguish goods or services of one producer from those of another. Recently trademark lawsuit controversies are surfacing in the business world. It will soon become the new normal that two or more companies could be share the same trademark if things aren’t brought under control.

Nowadays, registered trademarks and trade names have no value as injustice and lawsuits cripple their credibility. As in most cases, companies work hard to make the best products in the world and want to ensure their customers’ experience is not compromised by companies who try to profit from using their brand.

Michael Jordan, the former Chicago Bulls player, lost a trademark suit to Qiaodan Sports in China’s highest court after numerous appeals. Jordan first sued the company, which is based in the southeastern Fujian province, in 2012. Jordan fired lawsuits against the Chinese imitator appropriating his name and brand. This Chinese imitator used his Chinese name, his number as a player, 23, and a silhouette logo similar to the “Jump man” used by Nike to deceive Chinese consumers into purchasing sportswear that appeared to be endorsed by the basketball player.

China’s Supreme Court in Beijing dismissed the trademark suit against Qiaodan under the grounds that there was insufficient evidence to conclude that the sportswear company’s trademarks referred to the six-time NBA champion. After two court decisions ruled in favor of Qiaodan, Jordan appealed to the Beijing court, which reaffirmed the original decision in the verdict published in Chinese media and translated by Quartz.

Apple just lost a trademark fight in China, to a Chinese-based firm which sells handbags and other leather goods can continue to use the name “IPHONE”. Apple has the legitimate right and claims ownership of the brand name IPhone in China. Apple filed a trademark bid for the name for electronic goods in 2002, but it was not approved until 2013.

Xintong Tiandi sells handbags, mobile phone cases and other leather goods branded with the name “IPHONE”, close to Apple’s iPhone mark, and the “R” registered trademark symbol. Xintong Tiandi trademarked “IPHONE” for leather products in China in 2010.

Apple sued the company but unfortunately Beijing Municipal High People’s Court ruled in favour of Xintong Tiandi Technology, said the official Legal Daily newspaper. “Apple is disappointed when the Beijing Higher People’s Court chose to allow Xintong to use the iPhone mark for leather goods when they have prevailed in several other cases against Xintong,” said a spokesman for the firm

China has been frequently criticized for its lenient enforcement of international intellectual property laws while it is recognized to protect domestic counterfeiters. But nevertheless, China’s Supreme Court has proven that trademark is not the best way a company can use to protect its product from imitators.

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