Local manufacturer may take a bite from Apple's logo

China

The hearings in Apple Computer Inc's appeal of the Trademark Review and Adjudication Board (TRAB) decision to refuse the registration of Apple's logo for clothing have started.

Apple sought to register its apple logo for clothing in Class 25 of the Nice Classification, but the Chinese Trademark Office refused the application on the basis of Guangdong Apples Industrial Co Ltd's registration in 1998 of a similar logo for clothing also in Class 25. The TRAB upheld the decision. Apple appealed to the People's Court pursuant to Article 32 of the Trademark Law 2002.

During the hearings, Apple argued that its logo is not similar to Guangdong Apples' device. It also contended that its logo is famous and that Guangdong Apples is using its own logo in bad faith. The TRAB maintained that the marks are similar and would result in consumer confusion. It also took the view that, while Apple's logo is famous for computers, its fame does not extend to clothing. Also, Guangdong Apples claims that (i) it is well known in China for leather products including handbags, shoes, wallets, belts, gloves and apparel, and (ii) has sales networks in all major Chinese cities and throughout the world. This could make it difficult for Apple to succeed under the recently introduced well-known trademark provisions.

While the court has yet to issue a decision, it is interesting to note that the marks coexist on the Australian Trademarks Register in Class 18.

Sandra Gibbons, Lloyd Wise & Co, Hong Kong

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