Apple Faces New Chinese Trademark Dispute Over Snow Leopard

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Chinese company Jiangsu Xuebao has filed suit against Apple accusing the American company of infringing on its Snow Leopard trademark in China. The company is best known for household products, but holds some trademarks in the electrical equipment and software categories. The company has presented 104 pieces of evidence to a Shanghai court, which has agreed to hear the dispute on July 10.

Jiangsu Xuebao is best known for household products such as toothpaste and cleaning supplies, but it does have a range of subsidiaries across many industries. The company also produced “Xuebao touchscreen ad display” and “Xuebao mobile EPR software,” which may prove to be its best case for trademark infringement.

Xuebao trademark document

Jiangsu Xuebao trademark document, courtesy M.I.G. Gadget

The company filed for the trademark in 2000. Coincidentally, that’s the same year that Proview trademarked IPAD. Proview’s recently settled with Apple for $60 million over that trademark dispute.

In contrast, Jiangsu Xuebao is asking for only 500,000 yuan (US$78,673) in compensation as well as an apology from Apple. The company is also suing four Chinese companies that market and sell Apple’s Snow Leopard operating system.

Apple tried to trademark the Chinese translation of Snow Leopard (Xuebao, 雪豹) in 2008 but was rejected. The CEO of Jiangsu Xuebao believes it was because his company already had the trademark at that time.

M.I.C. Gadget reported that at least one Chinese lawyer thinks Apple should win this case since they never used the Chinese word “Xuebao” or the Chinese characters (雪豹) on their website. Whether or not that is relevant remains to be seen.

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Perhaps the most prudent strategy for Apple (and any other world-marketing company with “bottomless” pockets like it) to obtain omniglot trademark-IP protection for all its products within each different language/culture’s marketplace, is to plan on the failure of its best due diligence efforts to anticipate, find & accommodate all local trademark conflicts with Apple’s brands, and to plan on subsequently resolving all such inevitable local trademark squabbles as this current one, by patiently waiting for any/all lurking suers remaining to eventually hatch out of the mud there, and minimize the cost of getting them out of Apple’s face then and there.

Anticipating such conflicts in all those ethnological worlds where Apple brands are being marketed is simply not feasible.  The profits to be made in those markets will make the costs of paying off local scalpers miniscule.  And maybe that tiny redistribution of Apple’s Scrooge-McDuck wealth with help some in need.

Lee Dronick

Perhaps Apple should coin some words and use them for trademarks.


“Perhaps Apple should coin some words and use them for trademarks.”

“...coin some words…”, such as, “iPad”?  (I wonder, did you meant that sarcastically?)

It seems to me that a strategy with more likelihood of succeeding would be to just plan on getting scalped locally whenever Apple goes into a new language/culture?s marketplace, and relying on local legal/political experts to minimize the scalper’s prices

Lee Dronick

There is probably a product for optical care called Ipad.

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