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iPhone or IPHONE?: What’s In A Name?


By: Samual Li

Recently, a stunning court case involving Apple and Xintong Tiandi has caused shockwaves throughout the technology world.  In 2007, Xintong Tiandi branded their products of phone cases and bags with the term “IPHONE”. Two years later in 2009, Apple started to sell the iPhone.

Apple has spent countless money for a number of years to brand themselves worldwide with such common knowledge names as iPhone, iWatch, iPod, iPad.  China has rejected that the term iPhone was an intellectual property violation. It is mind boggling that the Chinese sided with Xintong Tiandi and ruled they did not violate any trademark rule.

If you have never been to China, the country is riddled with counterfeit items.  I have personally seen everything from counterfeit clothes to counterfeit drinks.  The majority of counterfeiters do not care about the law and try do everything they can to skirt it. On some products that I have seen, English words are misspelled and the iconic images of well-known brands are altered.

Apple is still contesting the use of iTunes and the iBooks brands and services.  Apple has said they will appeal the ruling and bring the case to the Chinese Supreme court.  “Apple is disappointed the Beijing Higher People’s Court chose to allow Xintong to use the iPhone mark for leather goods when we have prevailed in several other cases against Xintong. We intend to request a retrial with the Supreme People’s Court and will continue to vigorously protect our trademark rights.”

If the ruling is not overturned, it would send a dangerous message to other companies by giving the greenlight to counterfeit other well-known goods. It will be interesting to see if the Chinese Supreme Court will take the case.


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Robert D. Cobb
Founder, Publisher and CEO of INSCMagazine. Works have appeared and featured in places such as Forbes, Huffington Post, ESPN and NBC Sports to name a few. Follow me on Twitter at @RobCobb_INSC, email me at [email protected]