Why Nippon Lost Its Lawsuit against Trademark Infringement by Taobao Sellers?


(By Luo Yanjie)In March 2011 the globally well-known paint producer Nippon Paint Co. Ltd. (“Nippon”), discovered Zhanjin Company had set up a shop on Taobao.com, the biggest online market in China, and had been using Nippon trademarks, ads and trade dress concerning Nippon products with no approval or license from it. With no reply from Taobao.com after filing a complaint, Nippon sued Zhanjin and Taobao in court, and yet the complaint was rejected by the judge. Dissatisfied with this result, Nippon made an appeal to the Shanghai No.1 Intermediate People’s Court, who ruled that the adoption of Nippon’s trademark by Zhanjin is for product information display only, and it could lead to no likelihood of confusion among the public. In addition, the court ruled that no commercial interests of the plaintiff would be damaged. Based on these rulings, the alleged trademark infringement claim could not be established, and therefore the original decision was maintained.