(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.
(By Luo Yanjie) Both the enterprise name and the trademark distinguish the sources of goods or services, so that in practice they may conflict with each other. However, trademark, an exclusive right, has functions so as to prohibit others from using it as enterprise name. Under some circumstances, the enterprise name can coexist with the trademark. In today’s post, we would like to introduce such a case.
Introduction to the Case:
Retrial Applicant (Plaintiff at first instance, appellant at second instance): Yinchuan Buma Trading Co., Ltd (the “Yinchuan Buma Trading”)
(By Luo Yanjie) An enterprise name attempting to use a well-known trademark is quite the norm in China. In today’s post, we would like to introduce a typical case where the courts made a final judgment that the infringer constitutes infringement but does not change its enterprise name. However, the judgment is far from playing its role in the containment of this violation.
Introduction to the Case:
Appellant (Defendant at the first instance): Beijing Royal VIDAL SASSOON Beauty Hair School (the “Royal School”)
(By You Yunting) In the end of 2013, the Beijing Higher People’s Court rejected Apple Inc.’s trademark opposition towards “苹果” trademark (read “Pingguo” in Chinese and referring to “Apple” in English) under Class 28 for game console against Zhongshan Readboy Electronics Co., Ltd. Thereafter, Apple Inc. has gone through 4 procedures, including the Trademark Office’s opposition proceeding, TRAB’s review procedure and two administrative actions and ultimately lost the “苹果” trademark under Class 28 for game console. The following are abstracts from the judgment of the final trial and our comments.
(By Luo Yanjie) Abstract: In the event that a party unknowingly sells goods that infringe upon another party’s exclusive right to use a registered trademark but can prove that it has obtained the goods lawfully and is able to identify the supplier shall not be held liable for damages. In a case that a trademark holder separately sues sellers, despite no laws requesting the manufacturers to join in the lawsuit, for the purpose of preventing contradictory judgment, the courts could notify him or her requesting joinder. It is the manufacturers that could decide whether acting as a third party to join the lawsuit.
(By You Yunting) Kellogg Company, an American multinational food manufacturing company, produces cereal and convenience foods, including cookies, crackers and fruit-flavored snacks. However, in China, someone tried to apply for “Kellogg” as a trademark under Class 41 for educational services. After discovering this, Kellogg Company filed an opposition, but suffered a setback at first in that both the TRAB and Beijing No.1 Intermediate People’s Court rejected its claim. After Kellogg Company appealed, Beijing Higher People’s Court supported its claims, on the ground that the disputed trademark infringed the prior enterprise name of Kellogg Company.