Does the Merchandizing Rights Fall into the Protection for Priority Right in China Trademark Cases?

(By Ning Tinggang) Beijing Intellectual Property Court recently introduced some movie, TV series, music, animation and game related cases it heard in 2015 and 2016 via its public WeChat platform, including the trademark “Kuroko Basketball” invalidity case which inspired me. The way that the court dealt with this case shows a new trend of protecting merchandizing interests which we legal professionals should pay attention to.

Case Introduction

Kuroko Basketball is a popular comic work about basketball created by ふじまき ただとし, a Japanese comics artist. The work was serialized on the magazine SHONEN JUMP published by Shueisha since the second issue in 2009, and then was adapted for an animation and first broadcast on 7th April 2012. The plaintiff, SL Sport Ltd. in Kaiping (“SL Company”), filed a trademark-register application to the trademark office on 19th July 2012. As approved, this trademark (“Disputed Trademark”) should be used under Class 25. In addition, SL Company registered tens of trademarks closely connected with popular comics works such as Kuroko Basketball and SLAM DUNK that Shueisha had published, including trademarks used under Class 18, 24, 25, 35 and other types of commodities or services. Thus, Shueisha filed a request for declaration of invalidity of the Disputed Trademark.

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Shall Quantities of Malicious Registration Be Improper Means in China Trademark Law?

(By Wang Ting) In China, the Trademark Law applies the Principle of First Filing and when the Trademark Office reviews these applications, they usually examine whether there are prior applications or registrations existed, but not the intentions of filing such prior registrations. It means they don’t consider the bad faith during trademark registration procedure. Many foreign companies have applied and obtained the trademarks for their own products and services at the beginning. However, as so-called villains can always outsmart, besides the malicious registrations of others’ un-registered trademarks, there are lots of cases in which the trademark squatters register the well-known or popular trademarks on different goods or services. Thus foreign companies suffered from such consequences. Today, in our introduced case, we are going to discuss about the situations that the acts of malicious registrations under different classes are finally determined as improper means as stipulated in the Trademark Law.

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Why Does Shanghai Court Dismiss a Non-use-Oriented Trademark Register in Malicious Lawsuit?

(By Yue Mengyan) There are many applicants who register a tremendous number of trademarks without the use-oriented purpose. Moreover, they register trademarks on obvious malicious purpose. In such situation, their enforcement for trademark protection shall be limited and their claims for compensation against trademark infringement may not be favored by the court.

Case Introduction

Appellant (Plaintiff at the first instance): Guangzhou Zhinanzhen Exhibition Service Co., Ltd. (the “ZHINANZHEN”)

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Could Coexistence Agreement Be Accepted in Trademark Application in China?

(By Yue Mengyan) Pursuant to China trademark laws and regulations, if certain trademarks have been already registered for certain goods, applicants cannot apply for such same or similar trademarks for any same or similar products. However, if the trademark coexistence agreement is made by the right holder of prior registered trademark and applicant of an identical or similar trademark without interfering in each other’s interests, then it is possible for the applicant to successfully obtain the approval of such application.

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Does the “GAP Underwear” Trademark Have Adverse Effect by Its Name?  

(By Luo Yanjie) Trademark Office (the “CTMO”) has been increasingly tightened its standards on trademark reviewing and claiming that the trademark itself may cause “adverse effect”. Competent authorities are more than inclined to use such grounds indiscriminately by treating it as an all-purpose shield to deal with distinct situations. Recently, the Supreme People’s Court remedied such phenomenon by making its decision on the GAP Underwear’s cases. The following is our detailed introduction:

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What Startups Need to Know to Protect Their IPR in China

 (By You Yunting) I was once asked by a journalist what the foundation of intellectual property  courts and the ratification of the Opinions on Quicker Development of the Globally Influential Scientific and Technological Innovation Center matter to small and medium-sized startups, and replied the outcome of those two events were the same, both of which ultimately aimed to enhance the awareness of intellectual property throughout our society and guide small and medium-sized enterprises to establish a competition barrier and a management philosopher on how to avoid infringing others’ intellectual property rights. As governmental authorities define and set official instructions and policies, each startup should take full use of its intellectual property during daily operation, trying to become positioned to succeed, just like a well-known Chinese aphorism says that even the pig can fly when the typhoon comes. Combined with my experiences, this article mainly deals with the issue of how small and medium-sized startups seek intellectual property protection both internally and externally.

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Why Does China Court Order New Balance a High Amount Compensation of RMB 98 Million for Trademark Infringement?

(By Luo Yanjie) Recently, Guangzhou Intermediate People’s Court ordered New Balance Trading (China) Co., Ltd, an affiliate of US-based Sports footwear manufacturer New Balance, to compensate a Chinese shoes owner, Zhou Yuelun, with a rarely high amount of RMB 98 million for infringing his Chinese “新百伦” trademark, a Chinese transliteration from English word New Balance, in the first instance. Such high amount of compensation is unusual in China intellectual property infringement. It is for this reason that this case attracted extensive attention. Upon the public records, from the legal view, we will briefly introduce and analyze this case in today’s post.

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Could Co-Founder Rush-Register A Planning Trademark As His Own?

lehmanbrown

 (By Luo Yanjie) Article 15 of both the 2014 version and the 2001 version of the Trademark Law stipulated that an agent shall not rush-register trademarks of the principal or the represented. In practice, Article 15 is always used to prevent from rush-registration. The following judgment will introduce a typical rush-registration case with new ideas for reference.

 Introduction to the Case:

Re-appellant (plaintiff at first instance, appellant at second instance): LEHMANBROWN LIMITED (the “HK Company”)

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DeBund Succeeds in Pushing Copycat Game App from AppStore

Recently, DeBund takes a big step forward in providing mobile internet legal services that You Yunting Team, on behalf of clients, succeeds in pulling a popular game from the AppStore by more than 10 lawyer’s letters.

The Developer of the complained game copied large amounts of background elements of a well-known game, including graphic design, plots, role names and geographic names, and also used the brand of the original game. The Developer also made a cartoon modeling on the game characters, and did a slight change to the game name, not exactly the same as the original game. The infringed benefits greatly from the complained game to millions of yuan every month.

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China Supreme Court Approved Passive Use as the Use of Trademark

(By Luo Yanjie) Trademark is to distinguish the goods and services from different trademark owners. However, if the public voluntarily called it another name and made use of it, then does such use still constituted the use of trademark as regulated in the Trademark Law. If you want to know more, please read the next posts.

Introduction to the Case:

Re-appellant (third party at first instance and appellant at second instance): Gui Pufang

Re-respondent (plaintiff at first instance and respondent at second instance): Guangdong Tea Imp. & Exp. Co. Ltd (the “GDT”)

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Why Did Using a Literal Meaning of “智慧背囊” be Judged Trademark Infringement?

送给青少年的智慧背囊

(By You Yunting) Introduction to the Case:

Appellant (1st defendant at first instance): Qingdao Publishing House

Respondent (plaintiff at first instance): Shandong Shiji Tianhong Education Technology Co., Ltd (the “Tianhong Education”)

2nd Defendant at first instance: Beijing Readbuy Tianxia Information and Technology Co., Ltd (the “Readbuy”)

Court of first instance: Beijing Fengtai District People’s Court No.: (2014)丰民初字第03829号

Court of second instance: Beijing No.2 Intermediate People’s Court No.: (2014)二中民(知)终字第10356号

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Bruce Lee’s Daughter Won Trademark Opposition for the Chinese Name of the late Bruce Lee

(By Luo Yanjie) The most common trademark squatting is to register celebrity names as trademarks in China. In following post, we will introduce a case regarding where the court rejected the rush-registered trademark via the use of late celebrity names. Bruce Lee, with his Chinese name 李小龍, was a late Hong Kong American martial artist, Hong Kong action film actor, martial instructor, filmmaker and the founder of Jeet Kune Do. The descendants of the late Bruce Lee set up a Bruce Lee Enterprise, LLC in the operation of related matters to the late Bruce Lee.

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Are Enterprises Entitled to the Rights for Its Prior Enterprise Name?

(By Wang Ting and You Yunting) In enterprise name registration, if an enterprise changed its enterprise name at once, generally the new enterprise name is under protection. This means, the enterprise is no longer entitled to the rights and interests of its prior enterprise name. Such being the case, does another’s registration on the prior enterprise name cause its prior rights, or violate the Article 32 of the Trademark Law on the stipulation that the trademark application shall not infringe upon another party’s prior existing rights? Is the enterprise with a new enterprise name entitled to the prior right for its prior rights? In today’s post, with regard to those questions, the Trademark Office, the Trademark Review and Adjudication Board, Beijing No.1 Intermediate People’s Court and Beijing Higher Peoples Court were divided in their attitude.

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Could JD.com Make the Alibaba’s Registered “双十一” Trademark Invalid?

京东

(By You Yunting) According to the news, Alibaba Group, an Chinese e-commerce that provides consumer-to-consumer business-to-consumer and business-to-business sales services via web portals, has already obtained the registration of the trademark “双十一” (meaning “double 11”, actually the date of November 11th) (the “disputed trademark”) and authorized its affiliated Tmall.com to the  exclusive use of the disputed trademark. Moreover, Alibaba delivered letters to various news media arguing that the JD.com’s use of “双十一” infringed the rights of its trademark. However, JD.com, one of the largest B2C online retailers in China by transaction volume, replied that the date of “November 11th” has already became a shopping day for all retailers and Alibaba’s registration on the “双十一” is accused of having the monopoly. Actually, Sunning Appliance, Gome and Amazon have suffered such impacts as well as JD.com.

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