(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?
(By Luo Yanjie) China trademark application procedure follows the principle of “first application,” but when two trademarks are substantially similar, a subsequent trademark could be considered as distinctive as the previously registered one through a sound reputation among consumers; taking this into account, and the possibility that such reputation may well differentiate a subsequent trademark substantially similar to a previously registered one causes one to consider whether such reputation would be worthy of the granting of trademark rights and protection.
(By Albert Chen) The Beijing High People’s Court (the “Beijing High Court”) established the “merchandising right” in a 2011 judgment on an administrative dispute between the Trademark Adjudication and Review Board (the “Board”) and DANJAQ, LLC (the “DANJAQ”). That was the first judicial definition of the right, and the first time it was included as a protected “prior right.”
In today’s post, we would like to describe the facts in the case, and introduce to our readers the opinions of Beijing High Court and our comments on the matter.
“Where any agent or representative registers, in its or his own name, the trademark of a person for whom it or he acts as the agent or representative without authorization there from, and the latter raises opposition, the trademark shall be rejected for registration and prohibited from use.”
But in judicial practice, the agent or representative has a very vague definition of “authorized” . Our website once analysed the issues concerned in the post “Whether Sales Agents Are Included in the Trademark Agent Squatting Articles of China Trademark Law”. In today’s post, we would like to introduce the opinions of the court from a different aspect. The details are as follows:
(By Luo Yanjie) Abstract: trademark application may take a long time. If the applicant encounters any change on its subject qualification, it shall handle the trademark transfer procedure as soon as possible, or otherwise the trademark could be cancelled.
It normally takes about one year from submitting the trademark application to the right granting. If during the application process it encounters any opposition, the time it takes for right granting adjudication would be much longer, possibly extending to several years. While during that period, the applicant may face a change on its subject qualification, and then will the trademark application be influenced in such a situation? In today’s post, you will see a typical case that we would like to share it with our readers.
(By Luo Yanjie) Today, we will introduce all of our opinions on yesterday’s case.
The reason why the two courts made different conclusions than the Trademark Office and the Board is that the court does not blindly follow the Similar Products and Services Form. With that in mind, we will share our opinions on the legal issues in this case:
1. The preconditions for trans-class protection of well-known trademarks
Article 13 of the Trademark Law provides:
“Where a trademark for which the application for registration is filed for use on non-identical or dissimilar goods is a reproduction, imitation, or translation of the well-known mark of another person that has been registered in China, misleads the pub1ic, and is likely to create prejudice to the interests of the well-known mark registrant, it must be rejected for registration and prohibited from use.”
(By Luo Yanjie) Today and tomorrow’s posts will introduce an administrative lawsuit recently decided by Chinese courts. The greatest focus point in the case is that the courts broke the barrier between trademark classes to hold that glasses and clothing are similar classes of trademark application.
According to China’s Trademark Law, trademark applications in China follow the “first application” principle. This means that for similar products whoever applies for a trademark first owns it and receives protection in that class, except for well-known trademarks, which receive cross-class protection. To determine what classes are identical or similar, the Trademark Office, Trademark Adjudication and Review Board (the “Board”), and other administrative institutions follow the Similar Products and Services Form that they promulgated. In practice, however, courts do not blindly follow this form. Today’s case is a prime example of the different opinions held by and different results reached by administrative organs and courts.
“Where any agent or representative registers, in its or his own name, the trademark of a person for whom it or he acts as the agent or representative without authorization therefrom, and the latter raises opposition, the trademark shall be rejected for registration and prohibited from use.”
But in judicial practice, the agent or representative has a very vague definition and limit, and interpretation regarding the meaning of “authorized” is currently in dispute. Our website once introduced and analyzed the issues concerned in the post “Whether Sales Agents Are Included in the Trademark Agent Squatting Articles of China Trademark Law”, and in today’s post we would like to introduce the opinions of the court having analyzed the case from a different aspect. The details are as follows:
(By Albert Chen) The Beijing High People’s Court (the “Beijing High Court”) established the “merchandising right” in a 2011 judgment on an administrative dispute between the Trademark Adjudication and Review Board (the “Board”) and DANJAQ, LLC (the “DANJAQ”). That was the first judicial definition of the right, and the first time it was included as a protected “first right.” The decision can be considered a clarification of the “merchandising right” by the judicial organs as well as broadening the scope of first rights.
In yesterday’s post, we introduced trans-class protection for well-known trademarks and the factors that might lead to this status being granted. Today, we would like to conclude by explaining situations in which well-known trademarks will not be granted trans-class protection.
III. Situations where trans-class protection will not be granted to well-known trademarks
As discussed above, well-known trademarks only enjoy trans-class protection when meeting the following conditions. Now, we will introduce some common situations where trans-class protection cannot be achieved: