EU refuses to register Xiaomi’s “Mi Pad” trademark
Apple Inc. fended off an attempt by Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi Corp. to get a European Union trademark for the name “Mi Pad” after judges ruled it could easily be confused with the U.S. tech giant’s iPad. The EU General Court in Luxembourg on Tuesday ruled that Mi Pad “is not to be registered as an EU trademark” because of the high degree of similarity with the iPhone and iPad maker’s product name. “The presence of the additional letter ‘m’ at the beginning of Mi Pad, is not sufficient to offset the high degree of visual and phonetic similarity,” the EU’s second-highest court ruled.
The risk is that “the relevant public will believe that the goods and services in question” come from the same company. Beijing-based Xiaomi, which was once the most valuable tech startup in the world, is in talks with investment banks about a possible initial public offering and seeking a valuation of at least £50 billion, according to people familiar with the matter this week. Xiaomi, led by Lei Jun, has gained momentum in recent months after stumbling against local rivals such as Huawei Technologies Co. and Oppo.
It has invested aggressively in retail stores and in India, where it is now on the verge of surpassing Samsung Electronics Co.
Xiaomi declined to immediately comment on the EU court ruling.
Xiaomi in 2014 applied to get the the EU trademark rights to Mi Pad for “electronic devices and telecommunications services.” Its defeat against Apple is the second in a row, but it can challenge Tuesday’s decision one last time at the EU’s top court.