Facebook has won its case against the Chinese company which registered the brand name “face book,” says the Financial Times. This win is a positive sign for Facebook, which is currently blocked to the 700 million Internet users in China, as it suggests that Beijing’s attitude is softening towards it.
A different ruling for Apple
The Beijing High Court ruled that the Zhongshan Pearl River Drinks Factory, which is based in southern Guangdong province, should not have been allowed to register the trademark “face book” in 2014. The factory makes potato chips and canned vegetables.
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A multinational company with a worldwide recognized brand must prove that its trademark is well known in China, says Chinese law. However, despite the widespread popularity of Apple’s iPhones, a Beijing court recently ruled that Xintong Tiandi Technology, an accessories manufacturer, was entitled to use the “IPHONE” trademark. Apple said it will appeal the case in China’s highest court.
Liu Hongqun, a factory executive, said he had not received the court’s final ruling in the “face book” trademark case.
“If it was illegal for us to register, why were we allowed to do so in the first place? If Facebook has such an influential brand globally, why can’t Chinese consumers access its website?”
Facebook blocked but still present in China
Instead of wooing Chinese users, the social media giant has focused on trying to recruit Chinese advertisers, that want to promote their products abroad. Business selling to marketers in China was “really strong” said Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer, during the first-quarter earnings call. Further, she gave the example of how Air China used the platform to advertise new flight routes, including one from Mumbai to Beijing.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has been meeting with the head of the ruling Communist party’s propaganda apparatus and also entertained China’s chief censor at his San Francisco home. Zuckerberg has also been trying to master the Chinese language and has jogged through Tiananmen Square on a polluted day to woo Chinese authorities. So such a win is not entirely surprising for the U.S. firm.
Considering how useful the site proved to pro-democracy protesters during the 2011 Arab Spring revolutions, if the Chinese government does decide to unblock Facebook, it will do so with strict conditions. Foreign Internet companies allowed to operate in China have to comply with the country’s draconian censorship regime.
Even though the social media giant is currently blocked in the region, Internet users can access the site with the help of technically illegal VPNs or virtual private networks.