Apple in Your Eye

America Is Going to Be Very Sorry It Every Taught China About Intellectual Property Laws

"It seems they have unleashed something of a beast."

apple snow leopard America Is Going to Be Very Sorry It Every Taught China About Intellectual Property LawsNo sooner had Apple announced a $60 million settlement in a longstanding dispute with a Chinese firm over the trademark for “iPad,” than another lawsuit has reared its head.

In the first instance, Proview Technologies alleged it trademarked iPad in mainland China 12 years ago. The second suit is a little harder to take seriously.

A Chinese household chemical company named Jiangsu Xuebao says it registered the trademark of the Chinese translation of “Snow Leopard” (“Xuebao”) for electrical equipment production, also in 2000 and claims Apple’s Mac OS X “Snow Leopard” has violated the trademark.

Jiangsu Xuebao is only asking for $80,000 in damages, but Reuters thinks it sees a larger trend afoot:

The irony in the situation is that Western firms, including the likes of Microsoft (MSFT.O), are the ones that pushed hard for China to toughen up its intellectual property rules. It seems they have unleashed something of a beast, though as yet nothing on the scale of the litigiousness of the United States. The country saw the fastest growth in the number of international patent filings last year, up by 33 percent, according to World Intellectual Property Organisation. Chinese telecommunications company ZTE 000063.SZ overtook Japan’s Panasonic to become the world’s top filer of international patents in 2011.

Despite the litigious fever sweeping China, the country is still a piracy capital, with American companies losing more than $1 billion to counterfeit products, not to mention any impending trademark lawsuits.

You know what they say: Sue a foreign competitor once and you’ll stop knockoffs for a day, teach that competitor intellectual property laws and you will regret it for the rest of your life.

Follow Nitasha Tiku on Twitter or via RSS. ntiku@observer.com