(By Luo Yanjie) Abstract: China’s new Trademark Law still enforces the principle of “first to file,” but at the same time a prior user of a trademark only need prove to some extent that their prior use of a registered trademark had a degree of popularity, and need not prove that a subsequent user of the trademark “squatted” the trademark by registering it. If the board approves such prior use, the prior user will have the right to continue using the trademark in the original scope of use. “Improper means” as stated in Article 31 of the Trademark Law, refers to situations “where the applicant knows or should have known that the trademark had been used by others with a certain degree of influence, and preemptively registered the same, then such applicant shall be determined to have used improper means to register the mark.”
(By Luo Yanjie) The Taiwan-based Yilan Food Industry Co., Ltd. (“Yilan”) is a well-known food manufacturing company, and owns the registered trademark “旺旺” (read as “Wang Wang” in Chinese) in several classes. Alibaba (China) Co., Ltd. (“Alibaba”) is a renowned e-commerce company based in Mainland China; it owns and maintains a subsidiary that develops and promotes its instant messaging software called “淘宝旺旺” (read literally as “Tao Bao Wang Wang” in Chinese). When Alibaba attempted to register the trademark for its software application, Yilan immediately filed a protest against it. In today’s post, we will concentrate primarily on this case. The main issue surrounding the case is relatively simple: a trademark can be considered a type of rare “resource” for its owner to make use of, and if in this case the trademark “旺旺” is already owned and registered by another entity, does it seem reasonable that a subsequent registrant simply attaches the prefix “淘宝” to it to avoid inevitable issues surrounding confusion as a result of the similarity of the two?
The State Food and Drug Administration of China (SFDA) recently released the news on its website that the colorful plain contact lens will be put into administrative supervision over medical equipment (the “News”). Though the equipment is referred as the “colorful plain contact lens”, while it’s reported by media in the name of “Acuvue/Acuvue” (the “Acuvue”, means beautiful sight in Chinese). Afterwards, Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ), the manufacturer of “Acuvue”, stated that the words are the exclusive trademark of it, and only the contact lens with cosmetic effect could be called as “Acuvue”.
Highlight: To introduce the laws and regulations concerning the conflict between trademark and company names in China and matters in need of attention regarding foreign companies applying for in trademarks.
Case study: Beijing Baoma (北京宝马), the company of BMW Group’s first agent in mainland China and the first one translated BMW to the current popular Chinese name Baoma (宝马), which means speeding horse and has become a vivid symbol of their vehicles, was demanded to change its name by BMW Group, under the pressure that even more the parties may get litigated against each other.