A case which proves that even the largest international brands can have difficulty managing their portfolio of trade marks, Apple has lost a trademark fight in the Chinese courts over the registration of ‘iPhone’ in relation of leather goods including mobile phone and tablet cases.

The decision doesn’t stop Apple from selling it’s phones on the Chinese market (Apple still has a trade mark for ‘iPhone’ in respect of electronic goods),  but it is a blow to the all encompassing approach Apple takes to protecting the branding of their products and all relevant accessories.

Whilst well known brands are usually able to prevent third parties from taken unfair advantage of their goodwill and name, it is becoming far harder to register and protect brands in territories such as China, where counterfeiting and copycat products are prevalent.

Apple has lost a trademark fight in China, meaning a firm which sells handbags and other leather goods can continue to use the name “IPHONE”.