iPad, Mi Pad, YourPad, Who’sPad?
Apple has successfully established a globally well-known product name for itself, especially in their i(insert tech product) line that when something relatively close comes along, there will be trouble. In this case, Mi (me or my depending on how you pronounce it) Pad.
Apple has succeeded at preventing Chinese tech company Xiaomi Inc from registering its “Mi Pad” as an EU trademark. Xiaomi’s Mi Pad and Apple’s iPad are both tablet computers and have pretty obvious similarities in sound and in the written term itself. The Mi Pad is an Android tablet with the same screen size and resolution specs as the iPad mini, and even uses the same colorful plastic materials as those used for Apple’s cheaper iPhones.
Xiaomi filed an application for the European Mi Pad trademark in 2014. Apple then placed a complaint to the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) in 2016 in which the EUIPO agreed that consumers could think that the Mi Pad was a variation on Apple’s iPad trademark. Xiaomi appealed to the General Court of the European Union, however it was just recently dismissed.
In this long-running battle, the European Union’s General Court ruled that Mi Pad should not be registered as a trademark because the two names were close enough to create a likelihood of confusion among consumers. It was concluded that English-speaking consumers were likely to understand the prefix “mi” as meaning “my” and therefore pronounce the “i” of Mi Pad and iPad in the same way.
“The dissimilarity between the signs at issue, resulting from 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 between the two signs,” the Court said in a statement.
Xiaomi can appeal against the ruling at the EU’s highest court, the Court of Justice of the European Union.