Facebook wins China trademark suit

Beijing (AFP) –


US social network Facebook has won a trademark case in China against a local company, state media reported Monday, weeks after a court ruled against tech giant Apple in a similar suit over its iPhone brand.

China's trademark authorities in 2014 approved an application by a beverage factory to register the brand "face book" for products such as drinks and potato crisps, state broadcaster China Central Television's English channel said on a verified social media account.

Facebook sued and a court ordered officials to revoke its decision and reconsider the issue. The Chinese firm appealed, but the Beijing Higher People's Court upheld the initial ruling, it said in a statement.

Zhongshan Pearl River, from southern Guangdong province, should not have been allowed to register the trademark, the court said.

"It clearly goes against the intrinsic value of trademarks and disturbs the normal trademark registration order... if the applicant applies to register a large number of others' well-known trademarks intending to seek business benefits by hoarding and transferring them," said the court statement, issued late last month.

Therefore such acts "must be stopped", it added.

Facebook gave no immediate comment.

The social networking site is blocked in China, along with a string of foreign websites including Google services and the New York Times, as part of Beijing's censorship of the Internet dubbed the "Great Firewall".

But Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been seeking greater access to China and in March defied choking smog shrouding the Chinese capital by taking a mask-free jog through Tiananmen Square, provoking derision online.

The ruling came after the same court ruled against US technology giant Apple in March in a case over a small maker of leather goods, Xintong Tiandi, using the iPhone name.

Apple said it was "disappointed" at the decision, adding it had "prevailed in several other cases against Xintong", a company spokeswoman said in a statement to AFP.

Apple will take the case to the Supreme People's Court and will "continue to vigorously protect our trademark rights," she added.