The company that owned the trademark “i-phone” in China yielded it to Apple, the Web site of China's trademark office shows, removing what could have become a legal roadblock for the similarly named iPhone there.
Hanwang Technology, a Chinese maker of e-readers and other devices, applied for the i-phone trademark for mobile phones in China in 2004, when it also launched a handset by that name that it no longer sells. But the record for that trademark, which several months ago showed Hanwang as the applicant, now lists Apple's name instead, and it displays a new note saying the trademark was transferred.
Local carrier China Unicom started offering the iPhone late last year. Before the phone launched, a local lawyer had said Hanwang's trademark and the similarity between the terms “i-phone” and “iPhone” would have made it illegal for Apple to sell the iPhone in China.
An official at Hanwang, also known as Hanvon, said Monday that the company had reached an agreement with Apple over the trademark but declined to give details, saying Apple worried reports of the deal could affect its brand.
An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment.
China Unicom last month said it had sold 100,000 iPhones. The iPhones sold in China are stripped of Wi-Fi to comply with local regulations, which has driven some users to buy versions of the smartphone offered outside China instead. Those iPhones are brought into China informally from other regions and widely sold at electronics bazaars.