Just as Apple loses the exclusive right to sell goods under the “iPhone” brand name in China, Facebook has just won a major trademark victory in the country. After a Beijing court ruled in the US company’s favor, Chinese citizens won’t be able to enjoy “face book” food and beverages.
The Beijing Higher People’s Court announced that it had revoked the Zhongshan Pearl River Drinks company’s approval to use the name on its selection of flavored drinks and oatmeal.
The court said the company, which regisestered the name in 2014, had "violated moral principles" with "obvious intention to duplicate and copy from another high-profile trademark.”
Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, Pearl River Drinks’ marketing manager defended the company’s right to use the name. Liu Hongqun said that the words face book – lian shu in Chinese – referred to the masks used in traditional Chinese opera.
The case was brought after Facebook unsuccessfully appealed to China’s Trademark Review and Adjudication Board on two separate occasions. The court’s decision comes as something of a surprise, as the country rarely sides with US companies in these incidences.
It was reported last week that Apple had lost a similar trademark case in China. The company will now have to share the iconic “iPhone” name with Xintong Tiandi Technology, which uses the phrase on its leather wallets and accessories.
Facebook is one of the many services banned in China, but Mark Zuckerberg and other executives have been trying to win over officials in the country. During a recent visit, the CEO met with China's propaganda chief Liu Yunsham. He also went for a run through the heavily polluted area of Tiananmen Square.
While the news doesn’t indicate that China is any closer to allowing Facebook through its great firewall, it does show that relations between the social network and the Asian country may be warming up.