(By Luo Yanjie) Trademark infringement via the unauthorized use of an enterprise’s name is a common phenomenon in China. Since the requirements for registering a company in Hong Kong are well known for being comparatively lax, many companies attempt to register well-known trademarks as an enterprise name in Hong Kong, and then run a business in Mainland China using this registered name, effectively fulfilling its role as a “free-rider” of another’s well known trademark.
The A.O.SMITH Corporation was founded over 100 years ago in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA, and is a global leader applying innovative technology and energy-efficient solutions to products marketed worldwide. However, the “American”AOSIMIHE (note: AOSIMIHE is a rough approximation of the name A.O. Smith transliterated into Chinese) Appliances (International) Group Ltd., registered in Hong Kong, is a free rider attempting to imply a connection between it and the United States-based A.O. Smith Corporation. Based on its Hong Kong company and trademark registration, the former succeeded in registering its “AOSIMIHE” trademark in Mainland China. Today, we’ll discuss how A.O.SMITH Corporation protected its legal interests against the “American” AOSIMIHE Appliances (International) Group Ltd.