Facebook’s (FB) Rare Trademark Win


Facebook (FB) may be blocked to China’s 700 million internet users, but that hasn’t stopped the social networking giant from scoring a court victory against a Chinese beverage company which had gained access to the “face book” name by registering it in 2014 as a separate trademark.

Late last month, the Beijing Higher People’s Court ruled (via BBC) that Zhongshan Pearl River Beverages, which sells products like milk-flavored drinks and potato chips had “violated moral principles” with “obvious intention to duplicate and copy from another high-profile trademark”.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been trying to break the ice with China for years. During a recent visit to Beijing, he was seen jogging through Tiananmen Square without a protective mask at a time when Beijing was experiencing a yellow-level smog alert. Zuckerberg also held a rare meeting with China’s propaganda chief Liu Yunshan amid heavy restrictions by the Chinese authorities on the use of the internet. Facebook and other western social media companies including Twitter (TWTR) are banned in China. Zuckerberg, who’s been studying Mandarin since 2010, also met with Alibaba’s (BABA) founder and chairman Jack Ma at the sidelines of the Economic Summit of 2016 China Development Forum.

“I’m still studying Chinese hard, but my Chinese is really terrible so I want to ask Jack Ma to use English with me today,” Zuckerberg said.

Trademark woes

Western companies usually struggle to have their trademarks upheld in China.

Only last week, Apple Inc (AAPL) lost an appeal in China for its iPhone trademark. A Beijing Court ruled that Xintong Tiandi, a Chinese maker of leather goods can brand them under the “iPhone” name. Apple had filed to trademark the “iPhone” name for electronic goods on Oct. 18, 2002, but the request wasn’t approved until end of 2013. Xintong seems to have applied for and received its trademark in 2007.

“Apple is disappointed the Beijing Higher People’s Court chose to allow Xintong to use the ‘iPhone’ mark for leather goods when we have prevailed in several other cases against Xintong,” the company said in a statement.

Cupertino said it intends to request a retrial with the Supreme People’s Court to protect its trademark rights.

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