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China Daily Website

Metro Beijing

Hanwang sells i-phone trademark to Apple for unknown sum

Updated: 2010-01-07 10:37
By Wang Ru ( China Daily)

Beijing company Hanwang Technology has transferred ownership of its "i-phone" trademark to Apple.

The news was disclosed on Monday by PC World, a technology news website based in the United States, which reported that Apple had resolved its iPhone trademark conflict in China.

The website said an official at Hanwang had confirmed that the company had made a deal with Apple, but the official refused to give details, saying Apple was concerned that reports about the deal might affect its brand.

The official website of China's state trademark office showed that ownership of the trademark "i-phone" had indeed transferred from Hanwang to Apple on Monday.

A spokeswoman with Apple in Beijing yesterday declined to comment.

Neither companies have discussed how much money changed hands.

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"Hanwang will have sold the trademark to Apple for several million dollars," said Wang Hao, a lawyer from BSFD Intellectual Property Agency in Beijing.

"A trademark is an asset that belongs to its owner, so this deal is quite normal," said Wang, who explained that there was a similar conflict, between Apple and Cisco, over the iPhone trademark in 2007.

Hanwang, China's biggest e-reader and handwriting recognition maker, registered the trademark "i-phone" in 2004 in China for its telephone and handset products.

The similarity between "i-phone" and "iPhone" meant it might have been illegal for Apple to sell iPhone in China without resolving the situation.

The deal is being seen as Apple removing the last roadblock on the way of selling the iPhone in China.

In an online poll conducted yesterday by Tencent, China's largest Internet portal, 80 percent of 5,079 voters thought Hanwang should not give up the trademark.

"Hanwang registered the trademark before Apple's launch of its mobile phone, so why should the company just gave up the trademark?" one netizen wrote.

China Unicom, the local carrier that started offering iPhone for sale at the end of October said it has already sold 100,000 iPhones and is optimistic about the future.

However, the China Unicom version of iPhone, which has been stripped of its Wi-fi capabilities, may not be attractive to all consumers in China.

Instead, many local iPhone users bought other versions of iPhone originally made for markets outside China.