Apple wins trial concerning EU trademark rights for “iPad”
The technology giant Apple has recently won a ruling at the European Court of Justice concerning their trademark rights. The dispute began when the Chinese competitor Xiaomi – a company specialized in electronics and mobile telephony – in 2014 filed an application with the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) for the name “Mi Pad”, which was rejected by EUIPO, since the name was too similar to Apple’s registered and well-known trademark “iPad”. Both Xiaomi’s Mi Pad and Apple’s iPad are tablet computers.
Xiaomi was not satisfied with the ruling from EUIPO, and they decided to bring action before the European Court of Justice, hoping that they would cancel EUIPO’s decision.
The Court did, however, agree with EUIPO, since the Court found that the consumers would be likely to confuse the two names and believe that Mi Pad could be a variation of iPad. With this decision, Xiaomi is now prevented from registering Mi Pad as an EU trademark.
Most decisive for the Court’s ruling was that the two names displayed a high degree of similarity owing to that fact that the word iPad is entirely contained in Mi Pad, and that the only difference between the words is the additional letter ‘m’ in front of ‘m’ in Mi Pad.
In addition, the Court estimated that both the English speaking and the non-English speaking part of the relevant public would be likely to think that the word “mi” should be pronounced as the English word “my”, which would make the name sound like “My Pad”, which again could be connected to iPad.
Even though there is a slight dissimilarity between the visual appearances of the marks, the Court concluded that this was not sufficient to offset the high degree of visual and phonetic similarity over all.
Xiaomi has several times been criticized for having used elements from Apple’s designs and even some of the same marketing tactics as Apple, so it seems only fair to take away the possibility for Xiaomi to obtain trademark rights to the word Mi Pad. It should be safe to say that Xiaomi did not come up with the name without at least a hint of inspiration from Apple.