(By Luo Yanjie) The most common trademark squatting is to register celebrity names as trademarks in China. In following post, we will introduce a case regarding where the court rejected the rush-registered trademark via the use of late celebrity names. Bruce Lee, with his Chinese name 李小龍, was a late Hong Kong American martial artist, Hong Kong action film actor, martial instructor, filmmaker and the founder of Jeet Kune Do. The descendants of the late Bruce Lee set up a Bruce Lee Enterprise, LLC in the operation of related matters to the late Bruce Lee.
(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) Today we will introduce a typical example of a trademark squatting case. Unilever recently succeeded in defeating trademark squatting after it undertook a nine year objection to prevent a similar trademark from being registered under a different class.
On May 28, 2003, Mr. Shi filed a personal application for “POND’S/ 旁氏” (the “disputed trademark”) under Class 5 for tonics (medicine), baby milk powder, air fresher, sanitary napkins and dental lacquer. However, in the period of trademark opposition for primary publication, Unilever filed an opposition, alleging that its prior registered “旁氏/POND’S” trademark (the “reference trademark”) had become a well-known trademark in China. Unable to achieve a supporting judgment from the Trademark Office and the Trademark Review and Adjudication Board (the “TRAB”), Unilever brought the case to the court.
(By Luo Yanjie) Abstract: Generally, two goods that fall into the same similar group constitute similar goods. “Similar goods” refers to the goods that are identical in such respects as the function, purpose, industry, sales channel and consumers; or goods that are likely to lead the relevant public into thinking they are associated with each other and cause confusion.
Trademark registration in China applies the Nice Agreement Concerning the International Classification of Goods and Services for the Purposes of the Registration of Marks (the “Nice Classification”). Every year the State Trademark Office in China will update the Chinese Goods and Services Classification in accordance with the Nice Classification. A trademark shall be registered in accordance with the Chinese Goods and Services Classification. When a trademark dispute brought to a court, the Chinese Goods and Services Classification is not used only as a reference for judgment of similar goods or services.
(By Luo Yanjie) According to a recent report by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), the British television series Downton Abbey (In Chinese, translated as “唐顿庄园 Tangdun Zhuangyuan”), which is very popular in China, and Carnival Films, who produced Downton Abbey, was attempting to sell Downton (in Chinese, Downtown is translated as “唐顿 Tangdun”) branded wine in the North American, European and Australian markets. However, according to a disclosure by the State Trademark Office, some Chinese merchants drew first blood, registering the “唐顿庄园 Tangdun Zhuangyuan” trademark and subsequently obtaining rights in the trademark. This news also pointed out that a Shandong-based Merchant Li Xiangjun had already received ownership of the “唐顿庄园 Tangdun Zhuangyuan” trademark for wines in China.
(By Luo Yanjie) Abstract: In today’s post, we will introduce a typical case discussing Lenovo’s defense against a “free rider” utilizing its well-known trademark. In this case, when Lenovo claimed cross-class protection for its Lenovo trademark, the court established two rules in its decision, which are as follows:
First, “misleading the public and causing injury to the interests of the registrant of a well-known trademark” is a legal basis for whether or not a well-known trademark may receive cross-class protection.
（By Luo Yanjie）Abstract: Current laws have no provisions as to whether a trademark coexistence agreement made by and between the trademark holder with a prior trademark and the trademark applicant with a latter trademark could impact the validity of the latter trademark. Under such circumstances, the courts shall consider and decide whether to approve the above-mentioned agreement. Where litigation concerning trademark ownership affirmation takes the form of an administrative suit, the courts shall, within the scope of the Trademark Review and Adjudication Board’s (the “TRAB”) administrative acts, decide whether its administrative acts are valid and rational.
Abstract: Approval from a reference trademark holder in supporting the registration of a subsequently registered similar trademark is one of the key elements taken into consideration by administrative organs and the People’s Court in deciding whether to grant trademark rights to the latter, based primarily on Article 28 of the Trademark Law.
(By Luo Yanjie) China’s Trademark Law adopts the “first to file” principle, and in general, when a later applied-for trademark appears to be substantially similar to a previously registered trademark, it will not be granted exclusive rights in the use of the mark. In the case introduced in this post, the latter applicant succeeded in its trademark application due to approval by a previously registered holder of a similar trademark. The details of the case are as follows:
“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) Article 46 of the Trademark Law has regulated how long one must wait until a cancelled or revoked trademark can be reapplied for, and yet due to the complexity of the application procedures, in the process of applying, an applicant could easily be confused or mistaken.
On January 13, 2003, Wang Huilan applied for the registration of a design trademark, numbered 3432984, specifically for Class 18, which includes both bags and briefcases. On July 1, 2004, the Trademark Office under the State Administration of Commerce and Industry (the “Trademark Office”) issued a Notice of Trademark Application Refusal, stating that the applied trademark was similar to already registered ones, and thereby Wang Huilan’s application was refused. Dissatisfied with this result, Wang filed a review application with the Trademark Review and Adjudication Board (the “Board”). In July 2007, the reference trademark judged in Wang’s application was cancelled. On August 22, 2007, the Board refused the review application. Ever more dissatisfied with this decision, Wang filed an administrative lawsuit.
“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:
— A trademark certificate cannot be taken as evidence of copyright ownership
(By Luo Yanjie) On June 27th 2002, Hua Yuan Company (hereinafter “Hua Yuan”) filed an application to revoke the disputed trademark “老人城LAORENCHENG” (hereinafter Lao Ren Cheng) pursuant to on Article 31 of the Trademark Law, with the claim that the trademark infringed upon Hua Yuan’s first rights in the mark. The disputed trademark was applied in Class 25 with registration number 1497462. During prosecution of the trademark, Hua Yuan submitted certificate of the No. 590673 trademark and No. 696935 trademark as evidence of its first rights in the mark. As indicated by the documents, the trademarks were registered before the trademark “Lao Ren Cheng.” Considering the opposition was mainly filed on the ground that Hua Yuan’s first rights had been infringed rather than due to similarity of the trademarks, the focus of this particular case depends on whether a trademark certificate may be treated as evidence of trademark ownership.
(By Luo Yanjie) Recently, the lawsuit filed by Nike against China’s Trademark Review and Adjudication Board (“TRAB”) (note: the link is in Chinese) was heard in the Beijing No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court. The case was brought because TRAB refused Nike’s application to trademark Liu Xiang (刘翔) for the reason that the trademark had been registered by another company twenty six years ago, namely in July of 1986. At that time, a company named Shanghai Liuxiang Company applied for the trademark Liu Xiang Brand (刘翔牌) in the class of clothing, and the exclusive period for the use of that mark will last until 2017. Incidentally, the Liu Xiang Brand trademark happens to have the same name as the famous Chinese athlete, Liu Xiang. The case is currently being heard, but the author believes Nike has little chance of winning the case. Today’s will examine the issues involved in this case.
It was reported by the Beijing News and Legal Evening Paper that the Beijing First Intermediate People’s Court (“Court”) has sentenced the case Coca Cola charging the infringement of the trademark “Ku Wawa” registered in the against Coca Cola’s copyright of designed trademark “Qoo”, judging that the Trademark Review and Adjudication shall rescind its approval for trademark registration of “Ku Wawa” and make a new decision.
The Court held that the trademark “Ku Wawa” bore no material similarity with the trademark “Qoo”, which however was registered by Coca Cola in 2001, and for this reason “Ku Wawa” shall not infringe the copyright of “Qoo”. On the other hand, although the registered products of beer of “Ku Wawa” is different from the beverage of “Qoo”, they actually relate in consumers and marketing approaches. Accordingly, the Court decided the trademark “Ku Wawa” constitutes a similar trademark used in the similar products, which could be trademark infringement, and demanded the Trademark Review and Adjudication Board cancel “Ku Wawa” and make a new decision.