Tomahawk, WI 12/17/2013 (BasicsMedia) – Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) is the manufacturer of smartphones going by the trade name “iPhone”. It also manufactures tablets called “iPad”. The company is also reported to be working on a wearable computer called iWatch to rival Samsung Electronics’ Galaxy Gear.

AAPL and Samsung are the leading manufacturers of tablets and smartphones. AAPL’s smartphones run on iOS while Samsung devices run on Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG)’s Android OS.

The two companies are in constant friction over patent infringement and billions of dollars have been transacted in settlements between them. In most patent lawsuits, AAPL has often carried the day against Samsung.

But if Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) is used to victory against Samsung, it met its match in New Zealand against a company that is making smartphones called “driPhone.” The Cupertino-based company lodged a case with the New Zealand court to compel the manufacturer of “driPhone” to drop the name. AAPL claimed that the name infringed on its trademark “iPhone” and could therefore lead to confusion and undue advantage to the rival.

The company sued Kiwi Crowther, a company owned by investor Hayden Crowther.

Defending trademark is something that big companies routinely do when they think that people are taking undue advantage of their trademarks, especially to carry out competing activities. Companies often claim investment in popularizing their trademarks and it is thus part of their primary investment. However, startup companies habitually craft names which resemble those of their leading competitors as a way of penetrating the market easily.

Different ballgame

Having almost always pinned down Samsung in various court cases regarding copyright, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) expected the New Zealand court to grant it its wish, but that was not going to happen. The court failed to stop Kiwi Crowther from using “driPhone” trademark on its smartphones.

That was unexpected. But even more interesting is that the court ordered Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) to pay for the cost of the case. In New Zealand, unlike in the U.S., it is normal that the loser in a case is made to pay the cost of the case in any other dispute regardless of its magnitude. So here AAPL lost double. The aspect of monetary cost to the case may obviously not hurt the company, but as for the trademark, it is a big blow.

Battle carried forward

Usually trademarks operate on a national basis and this means that while Kiwi Crowther has dealt a blow to AAPL in New Zealand, ruling could be different elsewhere. This being the case, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) is expected to start defending its trademark in other jurisdictions outside New Zealand to ensure that “driPhone” doesn’t become a threat to its lucrative smartphone business.

Despite losing the New Zealand case over trademark, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) has won several patent cases which somehow put it ahead of competition in the smartphone manufacturing industry. The company is also acquiring startups to boost its intellectual property portfolio as well as adding more features to its next generation devices. Analysts are expecting the stock to touch $700 per share in the upcoming months following its breakthrough deal with China Mobile.

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