This article was published on May 9, 2016

Facebook trademark ruling in China doesn’t mean the country will unblock the social network

Facebook trademark ruling in China doesn’t mean the country will unblock the social network

Another day, another trademark infringement case in China – except this time the court has ruled in favor of Facebook, despite its service being banned.

The case, brought by a court in Beijing found that a different company attempted to register the trademark “Face Book” in China in 2011 for “canned vegetables, potato chips” and “coffee drinks, tea drinks, candy,” according to the filing.

It was denied first time around, and the decision has now been upheld on the basis that the registrant failed to provide any evidence that the name ‘Face Book’ had been used in the production of food and drink, and had been registered with the intention of blatantly copying and trading on the success of the Facebook brand.

The decision will sting for Apple, which last week lost a trademark case in China, allowing another company to continue using the ‘IPHONE’ brand. In that case, the court ruled that the existing IPHONE brand was popular in the country before Apple’s handsets were even available, and so the company could continue to use the brand.

More widely, the Facebook ruling follows a sustained campaign from Facebook to try and curry more favor in the country. In March, Mark Zuckerberg took the unprecedented step of putting on a suit to meet with the country’s propaganda chief. Well, China is a huge potential market.

While some people might take the ruling as a sign that the country is slowly coming around to the existence of the service – and the potential that it could be unblocked – it’s not likely to be so straightforward; China’s in the midst of cracking down on access to foreign sites for people inside ‘The Great Firewall’, rather than welcoming new companies with open arms.