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EU court rules in Apple’s favour in trademark case

The ruling favored Apple over concerns that Xiaomi's Mi Pad will be read as "My Pad" -- similar to iPad.

xiaomimipad01.jpg

This is Xiaomi's Mi Pad. Mi, by the way, is pronounced as "me," not "my."

Aloysius Low/CNET

Here's a question: How do you read "Mi Pad?"

A European Union court has ruled that Chinese phone maker Xiaomi cannot register its Mi Pad tablet as a trademark because it thinks buyers will read it as "My Pad," which it says sounds too similar to Apple's "iPad," Reuters reported Wednesday.

The General Court added that the extra letter "M" isn't enough to differentiate the Mi Pad from the iPad in terms of visual presentation, according to a statement seen by Reuters.

Xiaomi submitted an application to the EU Intellectual Property Office to have "Mi Pad" registered as a trademark in 2014. It didn't succeed -- Apple filed a complaint upheld by the EUIPO in 2016 that consumers could confuse it as a variant of the iPhone maker's iPad.

It's not the first time Apple has taken action against Xiaomi, which is best known for its phones, for products that are too similar to its own in different ways. In 2014, it criticised the Chinese phone maker for coming up with phone designs that were too similar to the iPhone.

"We are studying this matter and evaluating our options," a Xiaomi spokesperson said. 

While Xiaomi is known in its home country of China and especially India (which really loves it), it remains an unfamiliar name in the States. Lei Jun, Xiaomi's CEO, said the company is "carefully evaluating" for the best time to crack the market, but there's word it could bring its phones to the country within the next two years.

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Update, 11:16 a.m. AEST: Adds comment from Xiaomi. 

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