It is unlikely that Apple will win a logo registration dispute with China's Trademark Appraisal Committee (TAC) because the Apple logo under discussion does not have a bite taken out of it, according to experts.

The long-running spat started in 2000 when Apple requested permission to use its logo for a range of clothing in China. This request was rejected because Guangdong Apples, which produces clothing, shoes and suitcases, had already registered an Apple logo of its own. Apple then decided to dispute Guangdong’s use of the said Apple logo.

Director of the Intellectual Property Research Centre at Shanghai Jiaotong University, Chen Naiwei, told China Business Weekly: "Under the current Trademark Law, it is unlikely that Apple Computer will win the case, since trademark logo rights apply only within a company's particular field."

Apple's lawyer Jia Zhanying said: "The logo of Apple Computer is well-known throughout the world and is unique from other apple logos, since its right side appears to have a good-sized bite out of it, and it has a leaf that extends to the right. The logo's design is like no other company's logo on the planet and the firm should be given dispensation for that reason."

TAC official Duan Xiaomei said: "Although slightly different, the trademark logo of Guangdong Apples and Apple Computer look very similar. If the two logos were used on clothes, customers would not be able to tell which brand they had purchased."

Duan also emphasized: "Apple Computer's reputation in the field of IT products has not necessarily carried over into the field of clothing. Clothing is totally different from computers in terms of functions, consumer groups and sales methods."

Chen suggested: "Apple Computer could buy Guangdong Apples' logo rights." According to the China Business Weekly report, Guangdong Apples is already discussing the possibility of entering negotiations with Apple Computer over the sale of the logo.

As yet, the courts have not made a decision. The first hearing was held earlier this month.