(By You Yunting) Recently, the Ministry of Culture has issued the Notice of Ministry of Culture on Regulating Online Game Operation and Strengthening Interim and Ex Post Supervision (Referred to as “Notice”), which will be put into effect as of May, 2017. The Notice contains lots of specific policies, including the restrictive policy on providing virtual props and value-added services of an online game by sweepstakes (Referred to as “Item Sweepstakes”), which are the significant sources of profits for game companies. In this article, we’ll discuss whether this policy would affect the incomes of these game companies or not.
(By Yue Mengyan) Pursuant to China trademark laws and regulations, if certain trademarks have been already registered for certain goods, applicants cannot apply for such same or similar trademarks for any same or similar products. However, if the trademark coexistence agreement is made by the right holder of prior registered trademark and applicant of an identical or similar trademark without interfering in each other’s interests, then it is possible for the applicant to successfully obtain the approval of such application.
(By Luo Yanjie) Recently, the Supreme People’s Court interpreted a definite attitude through a complicated case lasting for years that prior-used logo shall not be used as counterargument against latter registered trademark except under certain circumstances. The followings are our detailed introduction:
Introduction to the Case:
1st Retrial Petitioner (Plaintiff at first instance, Appellant at second instance): LIANG Huo (the “Liang”);
2nd Retrial Petitioner (Plaintiff at first instance, Appellant at second instance): LU Yijian (the “Lu”)
(By Luo Yanjie) Recently, Guangzhou Intermediate People’s Court ordered New Balance Trading (China) Co., Ltd, an affiliate of US-based Sports footwear manufacturer New Balance, to compensate a Chinese shoes owner, Zhou Yuelun, with a rarely high amount of RMB 98 million for infringing his Chinese “新百伦” trademark, a Chinese transliteration from English word New Balance, in the first instance. Such high amount of compensation is unusual in China intellectual property infringement. It is for this reason that this case attracted extensive attention. Upon the public records, from the legal view, we will briefly introduce and analyze this case in today’s post.
(By Luo Yanjie) Article 15 of both the 2014 version and the 2001 version of the Trademark Law stipulated that an agent shall not rush-register trademarks of the principal or the represented. In practice, Article 15 is always used to prevent from rush-registration. The following judgment will introduce a typical rush-registration case with new ideas for reference.
Introduction to the Case:
Re-appellant (plaintiff at first instance, appellant at second instance): LEHMANBROWN LIMITED (the “HK Company”)
(By Luo Yanjie) In practice, for the purpose of free-riding well-known brands, many operators often use another’s trademarks as their enterprise name to confuse consumers. As such, these conducts still constitute trademark infringement. In today’s post, we will introduce a typical case concerning that using another’s trademarks as enterprise names may constitute trademark infringement.
Introduction to the Case:
Plaintiff: Shanghai Jinsu Industrial Co., Ltd (the “Jinsu Co., Ltd”)
1st Defendant: Miergu Pipe Industrial Company (liter translated from “美尔固管业公司”)
(By Luo Yanjie) In our today’s post, when a foreign company ordered a number of Hero pens from a Chinese company, the Chinese company used the fake products to replace the authentic ones and then the fake products were found to be confiscated and punished by the Customs. Finally, the foreign company brought the Chinese company into the court and won the lawsuit, claiming that the Chinese company disobeyed the contract.
Hero pens are famous and have received well reputation for its good quality in the industry of pens in China.
(By Luo Yanjie) According to Chinese legislation, a mark which has a common meaning in normal ways may be registered as a trademark where it has acquired distinctiveness through use and is readily distinguishable. If being registered, the mark with a common meaning would be protected under the Trademark Law. However, in practice, a competitor may use the trademark against the exclusive right holder, with a defense that the trademark has common meaning. Today, we will introduce a successful case where the court is in favor of the exclusive right holder of the trademark.
(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.
(By Luo Yanjie) The Audi A4, A6 and other series of Audi cars are popular classic cars in China. However, Audi’s trademark applications for the A4, A6 etc., are always rejected. In today’s post, we will introduce a typical case regarding these trademarks, followed by our analysis for our readers.
Introduction to the Case:
In January 2007, Audi China filed an application with the State Trademark Office to register its “A4” mark (the “disputed trademark”). The State Trademark Office upheld that “A4”, a common vehicle model, lacked distinctiveness. Based on this finding, the Trademark Office rejected Audi’s application. After Audi applied for a trademark reexamination with the Trademark Review and Adjudication Board (the “TRAB”), the TRAB held that, the disputed trademark comprised of the English Letter “A” and Arabic numeral “4” was so simple that it would be difficult to distinguish the function of the source of goods; in addition, it lacked distinctiveness, a requirement pursuant to the Trademark Law. Again, based on these findings, the TRAB rejected Audi’s application for reexamination.
Abstract: Under the circumstances of prior trademark rights on the same goods, determining similar trade name used by another person as the special name belonging to a well-known commodity shall be limited. Furthermore, the courts shall necessarily review the ownership of prior trademark as the fact of a case.
(By Luo Yanjie) The special name belonging to a well-known commodity is a protective approach for an unregistered trademark. In particular, the special name shall have no severability itself; otherwise, it shall be limited. In today’s post, we will introduce a case with this element with the following analysis:
Abstract: An unregistered trademark may lawfully be licensed to another person. If any third party had registered the trademark, the licensor’s actions will constitute a breach of license contract. Except where the licensor has committed obvious fraud, the validity and effectiveness of such a license contract upon unregistered trademarks cannot be denied.
(By Luo Yanjie) Generally, a trademark in a trademark license should be registered before it is licensed to any other party. However, in today’s post, we will discuss a particular case there the trademark licensed was unregistered at the time the license was concluded. After being heard by two courts and the Supreme Court, such a trademark license contract was ruled to be valid. The following is our analysis.
Abstract: generally, consumers’ acts of purchasing infringing goods are not considered to constitute trademark infringement. However, some limits shall be given by laws and regulations to those that intend to manufacture and sell infringing goods to damage a trademark holder’s legitimate rights and interests. Based on such analysis, we don’t fully agree with the Chinese court’s decision in today’s post.
(By You Yunting) Pursuant to the Trademark Law, infringement refers to “manufacturing and selling” goods or services of a registered trademark without authorization, but does not include consumers’ acts of purchasing and using infringing goods or services. If laws entirely indulge consumers’ infringements, it is not entirely effective in protecting a trademark holder’s legitimate rights and interests. In today’s post, we will discuss a typical case evidencing such legal limitations. Here is our analysis:
Abstract: trademark holder is not necessarily entitled to prevent others from using its trademark into a business name because operation method needs to be judged. On the contrary, consideration upon prior right of business name does not just depend on first registration but on operation methods.
(By Luo Yanjie)Using another’s registered trademark as a business name is a common phenomenon of copycat brand names in China. In today’s post we would like to introduce a typical case to you. Relying on the fact that the business name “凯伦 Kanren” was registered earlier than that of the trademark, the court determined the defendant did not infringe upon the exclusive rights in the trademark. In the author’s opinion, the ratio decidendi is worth further discussion: