The Washington Apple Commission (WAC) has taken the Chinese Trademark Review and Adjudication Board to court after its application to register a trademark was rejected.
The application was rejected because the trademark contains the word Washington, the capital of the United States.
But WAC said Washington is also a person's name and, historically speaking, was used earlier as a personal name than as a geographical name.
According to Chinese trademark law, well-known foreign geographical names must not be used as trademarks, but exceptions can be made for geographical names that have other meanings.
The Trademark Review and Adjudication Board, which is responsible for handling trademark disputes, claimed Washington is better known in China as the capital of the U.S. than as a person's name, and so cannot be considered an exception.
WAC said its trademark, which has already been registered in the United States, is known the world over and that it has no intention of monopolizing the geographical name. It contends that the trademark will not have a negative impact on competition.
Washington State is one of the major apple-producing areas in the U.S.
The Intermediate People's Court has not yet handed down its decision on the case.