Apple successfully blocked Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi Inc from registering its “Mi Pad” tablet computer as an EU trademark. That is because the name sounds confusingly similar to Apple’s “iPad”.
The European Union’s second-highest court, the General Court, blocked the registration of the “Mi Pad” trademark because consumers are likely to be confused by the similarity of the two marks. Both marks are for tablet computers and the only difference is the additional letter ‘M’ at the beginning of ”Mi Pad.“
Xiaomi filed an application in 2014 with the EU Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) to register Mi Pad as an EU trademark. Apple subsequently lodged a complaint that the EUIPO upheld in 2016 on the grounds that consumers would think Mi Pad was a variation on Apple’s iPad trademark. Xiaomi can appeal against the ruling at the EU’s highest court, the Court of Justice of the European Union.
Xiaomi can still sell the Mi Pad in the EU, although without trademark protections. Xiaomi expanded into Europe last month when it began selling its smartphones in Spain. Xiaomi is China’s fourth largest mobile vendor by sales. The company also has presence in Indonesia, Vietnam, Russia, the United Arab Emirates and Ukraine. Xiaomi smartphones, tablets and other products have been criticized for borrowing design elements from Apple’s iPhones and iPads and adopting marketing materials tactics similar to Apple’s.