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Trademark at core of Apple case
By Liu Li (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-03-10 10:39

US-based Apple Computer Inc has brought an action against the trademark appraisal committee under China's State Administration for Industry and Commerce, after its request for trademark logo of Apple in the range of clothing had been rejected by the committee.

No decision was made yesterday after the first hearing at the Beijing No 1 Intermediate People's Court.

The committee made the rejection in June of last year, for the reason that the logo of Apple Computer is similar with a trademark registered by Guangdong Apples Industrial Co for clothing.

The US computer company requested that the court affirm that the trademark of its apple logo is a famous one and approve its trademark application for clothing.

Zengcheng-based Guangdong Apples is a company that makes alleged illegal profits while continuously attempting to infringe on the US company's trademark, Jia Zhanying, the lawyer representing the US plaintiff, claimed yesterday in court.

"The court should not permit the registered trademark of Guangdong Apples to interfere with Apple Computer's trademark registration in clothing," Jia said.

"Otherwise, this will further encourage the Zengcheng-based company's trademark infringement."

Apple Computer registered its trademark in China in May of last year in the field of computers.

Guangdong Apples' trademark of an apple logo, which does not have the same bite as on Apple Computer's, was authorized by the trademark bureau under the State Administration for Industry and Commerce in 1998, according to sources.

Jia also emphasized that with a history of 25 years, the logo of Apple Computer is unique from other apple logos, as its right side looks to have been bitten and has a leaf that extends to the right.

"It looks like a three-legged horse, and so will be absolutely different from a four-legged horse. The three-legged one is very easy to tell from many horses in terms of appearance," the lawyer said.

But the defendant - trademark appraisal committee, obviously disagreed with Apple Computer.

"Although slightly different, the trademark logo of Guangdong Apples and the Apple Computer look very similar," Duan Xiaomei, an official with the committee said.

"When the two logos are both used on the pockets or collars of clothes, the difference is very difficult to be recognized by consumers."

The official also emphasized that the credit of Apple Computer in the field of electronics does not necessarily influence the field of clothing, in which the US company applied for trademark.

"Clothing is totally different from computers in terms of functions, consumer groups and sales methods," Duan said.

The defendant said that the plaintiff did not provide any proof that Apple Computer is as influential in the field of clothing as in the field of computers.

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