(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.
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.