China: Go Ahead and Slap the iPhone Name on Your Case, Bag

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If you're in China and spot a leather case emblazoned with the "IPHONE" moniker, it's probably not from Apple. But before you think "copyright infringement," the case makers are within their rights to use the name, according to a recent court ruling.

The Beijing Municipal Higher People's Court recently quashed an Apple appeal to stop Xintong Tiandi Technology from using the iPhone name, which Cupertino trademarked in 2002.

According to Forbes, Apple could not prove that "IPHONE" was a well-known name in China in 2007, when Xintong Tiandi trademarked the name in the region for a product lineup that includes leather phone cases, passport covers, and handbags.

Apple announced the iPhone in early 2007, and released it in the US later that year. But the tech titan did not begin selling its handsets in China until two years later.

In a statement posted to its website, and translated by Forbes, Xintong Tiandi said that "the 'iphone' brand can blossom widely outside Apple."

Neither Apple nor Xintong Tiandi immediately responded to PCMag's request for comment.

The news comes shortly after Apple posted its first-ever year-over-year decline in iPhone sales, and first revenue drop in 13 years. The dip, according to The New York Times, can be attributed to weakness in areas like mainland China—Apple's second-largest market outside of the US. Tim Cook appeared on CNBC this week, where he said he "could not be more optimistic" about China's future.

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