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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For What Reason Should an E-Group Administrator Be Brought to Account for an Unauthorized Piece of Work Transmitted through the E-Group: Indirect or Direct Infringement?

(By Albert Chen)Last year Beijing Intellectual Property Tribunal dealt with an infringement case involving a QQ group and made the same decision as the first-trial court that the group’s administrator should be responsible for the infringement, but with different reasons. Detailed analysis of differences in the reasons for decision given by the two courts will help you answer the question of whether the group administrator should be brought to account for direct or indirect infringement.

Case Introduction

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Why It Is Difficult to Protect Copyrights in Live-Show Platforms in China?

(By You Yunting) Some users of ZHIHU.com (One of the most well-organized community for sharing knowledges online) asked: Would the network host infringe any right while singing at his or her own live-show room? If one host receives the user contributions from the audiences for his or her singing at such live-broadcast room, would such behavior infringe any right? Here come my answers:

The biggest problem of the hosts’ singing at their own live-show rooms is not about whether such behaviors infringe any right or not. Instead, the right holders of such songs have tremendous difficulties in protecting their rights.

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Does Unauthorized Use of Screenshots in Game Guide Constitute Infringement?

(By You Yunting) A game guide, also known as game strategy guide, is an essential reference for players. Generally, a game guide may quote pictures and screens from the game itself. But if without authorization, it triggers questions whether this quotation causes copyright infringement. In the following, a similar case will be introduced.

Introduction to the Case:

Plaintiff: Shanghai Aurogon Information and Technology Co., Ltd (the “Aurogon”)

1st Defendant: China Zhongdian Media Co., Ltd (the “ZD Media”)

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Qvod Vs China Government: RMB 260 million Punitive Fine for Copyright Infringement?

qvod

(By You Yunting) Introduction to the Case:

Plaintiff: Shenzhen Qvod Technology Co., Ltd (the “Qvod”)

Defendant: Market Supervision Administration of Shenzhen Municipality (the “MSA”)

Court of first instance: Shenzhen Intermediate People’s Court

The MSA filed a case with the Shenzhen Intermediate People’s Court, and claimed to cancel the punitive fine of RMB 260 million from the MSA. On 30th of December 2014, the Shenzhen Intermediate People’s Court held the trial as the case is still on that trial.

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Does Story Plot Plagiarism Constitute Copyright Infringement in China?

(By You Yunting) Introduction to the Case:

In the first half of 2014, Palace 3: the Lost Daughter is a 2014 Chinese historical television series written and produced by Yu Zheng. In April 2014, a Taiwanese writer Chiung Yao made a letter claimed that Palace 3: the Lost Daughter (the “disputed show) was based on her novel Plum Blossom Scar (the “reference novel”), but Yu Zheng delayed. On May 28, 2014, Chiung Yao filed a lawsuit, claiming that Yu Zheng was unauthorized to copy her original core plot, recompose the disputed drama and produce and broadcast the disputed show with another 4 defendants. Chiung Yao thought that Yu Zheng had seriously violated her right of adaptation and cinematization, causing great mental damage, and requested Yu Zheng to immediate stop infringement, eliminate influences, make an apology and compensation of RMB 20 million for economic loss.

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Could Jewelry Design be Protected by the China’s Copyright Law?

胜利之v

(By Luo Yanjie) It is common in China that a jewelry of the same design would be manufactured and sold by different jewelry shops in the industry of China’s jewelry. With regard to the initial source of the jewelry design, a lot jewelry companies and even consumers are not concerned whoever firstly designs the jewelry. In reality, a well-designed jewelry that took designers a great intelligence shall be protected by the Copyright Law. In today’s post, we will introduce a case where a jewelry design is succeed to be protected by the Copyright Law, sharing with readers.

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Introduction to Ownership of the Performer’s Right in China

(By Luo Yanjie) As China recently ratified the Beijing Treaty on Audiovisual Performances, in today’s post, we will introduce the system and cases of the performers’ rights in the Copyright Law. As for who holds the performer’s right, different judgments will be found through three cases. Who holds the performer’s right? The performer, the company/organizationthat hires the performer, or the performing company/organization? These different judgments can become an obstacle for the further development of China’s performing arts.

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Why Did NCA Officials Attend Sohu.com’s Press Conference against Toutiao.com?

(By You Yunting) Recently, Sohu vs Toutiao has attracted attention from the media. Sohu sued Toutiao for copyright infringement and unfair competition, whilst Toutiao filed lawsuits against Sohu for defamation. It is quite normal for two enterprises in competition to take legal proceedings against each other. However, what really surprised us was, in their dispute, that governmental officials attended Sohu’s press conference, in favor of Sohu. In today’s post, we will discuss the reason for theimproper governmental interference. Comments and suggestions are most welcome.

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Why UniStrong’s Navigation Found Guility of Copyright Infringement against Microsoft?

microsoft

(By Luo Yanjie)Our previous post How does Microsoft Settle Its Problems of Software Copyright Infringement in China introduced the difficulties of protecting its rights and interests in China. However, in today’s post, the court decided the trade practices constituted copyright infringement and ruled in favor of Microsoft, thus boosting confidence for all software owners.

Introduction to the Case:

Appellant (defendant at first instance): Beijing UniStrong Science & Technology Co., Ltd (“UniStrong”)

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Why China Court Decision Requires Software Interface Primary Aesthetics under Protection?

(By Luo Yanjie) Pursuant to the Copyright Law, the works shall be original with primary aesthetics. From this point, most software interface can’t receive protection from the Copyright law, because most software interfaces are designated in a simple arrangement for the purpose of easy-to-use and thus are likely to be considered as lack of “distinctiveness”. The judgment in the following case set forth the theory.

Introduction to the Case:

Appellant (defendant at first instance): Shenzhen Tenda Technology Co., Ltd (the “Tenda”)

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Why China‘s Courts Decided the Enterprise’s Use of “Personal Edition” Software Constitute Non-infringement?

(By Luo Yanjie) Rhino Software Inc. developed the Serv-U software, a kind of widely adopted FTP server terminal software to help the transmission of documents on websites. In recent years, Rhino Software Inc has been continuously trying to enforce its rights against unauthorized use of Serv-U in China, but the results are not satisfied. In our previous Questions and Solutions to Enforcement of Rights Protection By Overseas Software Enterprise in China, we had analyzed the reasons why Rhino Software Inc encountered obstacles in its protection. That the trial version for 30-days free use made Rhino Software Inc unable to the affirmation of infringement was the reason why Rhino Software failed in today’s post.

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Symantec Corporation Uses both Criminal and Civil Methods to Defeat Piracy in China

symantec

    (By You Yunting) It is well known that China is facing a serious problem over piracy. When claiming for his enforcement over cases suspected to involve criminal offences, the right holders often report to the Police attempting the use of criminal laws to strike with piracy. Furthermore, in accordance with Chinese laws and regulations, upon the completion of criminal proceeding, the party against the piracy may, on the basis of criminal judgment paper, file civil lawsuits against the pirated to receive compensation. Today we will introduce a case concerning Symantec Corporation’s enforcement against the pirated party, where Symantec Corporation instituted lawsuits against the pirated, as well as the companies which contributed to make pirated CDs and print the envelopes of the pirated software. As such, its lawsuits and claims are being backed by Shanghai courts.

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Regulations against Intellectual Property Malicious Litigation in China

    (By You Yunting) Malicious litigation refers to instituting a lawsuit through fictional facts and falsified evidences for the purpose of receiving unlawful benefits. In today’s post, we will introduce some provisions about malicious litigation in intellectual property laws and civil procedure law in China.

    I. Provisions on wrongful litigation injunction can be applied into malicious litigation.

    In litigations concerning patent, trademark and copyright, the right holder always applies for such litigation injunctions as termination of infringement, evidence preservation and property preservation. Where the court approved the application, if the litigation is proved to be malicious, the respondent may require the applicant to compensate for such losses. Article 13 of the Several Provisions of the Supreme People’s Court on the Issues Concerning the Application of Law to Terminating Infringement upon Patent Prior to Litigation stipulates that:

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Linking Copyrighted Movies Constituted Non-infringement

youku

(By Luo Yanjie) Recently, our team represented a client who developed an App offering a linking service, in an infringement case over the linking of a copyrighted video on the mobile internet. The court made a final judgment in favor of our client, on the grounds that the safe harbor principle applied in this case. In today’s post, we will introduce this case below.

Introduction to the Case:

Plaintiff: China Film Media Asia Audio Video Distribution Co. Ltd (the “China Film Media Co. Ltd”)

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