ARTICLE
12 April 2022

[IP Law] Huawei Wins Against Apple Over "MatePod" Trademark

Over the years, the competition between Apple and Huawei in the tech and communication field has been extremely fierce, because Huawei's mind set and products have a tendency to be on an equal footing with Apple's.
China Intellectual Property
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Over the years, the competition between Apple and Huawei in the tech and communication field has been extremely fierce, because Huawei's mind set and products have a tendency to be on an equal footing with Apple's.

Although Huawei's technology competition with Apple has gradually weakened due to some operation restrictions in the United States, there have been many frictions in other fields.

In 2021 Huawei Technology Co., Ltd. (hereinafter referred to as Huawei) added a new trademark to its portfolio, which is the trademark leading the case. It added it after applying for it and winning an opposition filed by Apple Inc. (hereinafter referred to as Apple). The trademark involved is the "Huawei Matepod" trademark.

Apple claimed that Huawei "maliciously duplicated" its trademarks, "which might have a harmful impact on society", believing that the trademark plagiarizes "airpods", "earpods" and other trademarks.

However, the CNIPA believes that the evidences provided by Apple are insufficient and lack factual basis. Therefore, CNIPA approves the trademark registration of "Huawei Matepod".

CNIPA's database shows that Huawei applied to register the mark "Huawei Matepod" in Classes 9, 35, 38, 41 and 42 but managed in the end of this opposition case to register "Huawei Matepod" in Classes 9 (No.43609852) and 35 (No.42254685).

During the opposition procedure, Apple declared that their "Pod" has become a popular term to name its smart devices and accessories.

Also, Apple stated that "MatePod" and "HUAWEI Mate Pod" are similar to Apple's "POD" trademarks that includes the following and famous:

No. 27962854 "POD"; No.5414981 "IPod"; No.17636443 "AIRPODS" and so on and all covering goods in class 9.

A search at the CNIPA's database could reveal many trademarks incorporating the term "Pod", in particular in Class 9.

It could be seen from the official records that Apple raised many oppositions and successfully opposed marks such as "Podtime", "PodsGO", "Powerpods", "TransPods", "BlackPods" and the list goes on for 188 pages.

Additionally, Apple also claimed Huawei's bad faith in registering the mark but was not supported by the examiner.

Eventually, the CNIPA examiner believed that the goods designated for use by the objected trademark and the goods approved for use by the objector's cited trademark are similar in function, purpose, sales channel and consumption object, and belong to the same or similar goods.

However, the English letter composition of the trademarks of both parties is different, and there are obvious differences in pronunciation and overall appearance.

Therefore, the trademarks of both parties do not constitute similar trademarks used on similar goods, and their coexistence in similar goods generally will not cause confusion and misunderstanding of consumers.

Therefore, in accordance with Article 35 of the trademark law, the State Intellectual Property Office decided that the trademark "Huawei Matepod" No. 43609852 was approved for registration.

This is another victory for Huawei, who has, during the years, won various graphic trademark cases with other big companies such as Chanel and Under Armour.

Apple still has the chance to file invalidations against any registered "Huawei Matepod" trademarks. We will have to see whether or not that will happen.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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