Apple loses logo case against local clothing manufacturer

China

The IP Tribunal of the Beijing First Intermediate People's Court has rejected Apple Computer Inc's appeal of the Trademark Office's (TO) decision to refuse registration of its APPLE logo for clothing. The decision comes as a surprise, as Article 14 of the Rules on the Recognition and Protection of Well-Known Trademarks, which came into force last year, should have sufficed to protect the logo.

The TO had refused Apple's application on the grounds that local clothing manufacturer Guangdong Apples Industrial Co Ltd had registered in 1998 a similar logo in the same class of the Nice Classification (see Local manufacturer may take a bite from Apple's logo). Although the details of the case have not been forthcoming, it is likely that Apple applied to the court for its logo to be granted well-known status in order to (i) cancel the registration of the Guangdong Apples' logo, and (ii) register its own logo for clothing.

However, the court appears to have rejected Apple's claim for well-known mark status and this decision is yet another example of the confusion that remains regarding the criteria used in China to grant such status.

For a discussion of the protection of well-known marks in China, see Well-known mark protection in China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.

David C Buxbaum, Anderson & Anderson LLP, Hong Kong

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