(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 You Yunting) According to the news, Alibaba Group, an Chinese e-commerce that provides consumer-to-consumer business-to-consumer and business-to-business sales services via web portals, has already obtained the registration of the trademark “双十一” (meaning “double 11”, actually the date of November 11th) (the “disputed trademark”) and authorized its affiliated Tmall.com to the exclusive use of the disputed trademark. Moreover, Alibaba delivered letters to various news media arguing that the JD.com’s use of “双十一” infringed the rights of its trademark. However, JD.com, one of the largest B2C online retailers in China by transaction volume, replied that the date of “November 11th” has already became a shopping day for all retailers and Alibaba’s registration on the “双十一” is accused of having the monopoly. Actually, Sunning Appliance, Gome and Amazon have suffered such impacts as well as JD.com.
(By Luo Yanjie) Abstract: In the event that a party unknowingly sells goods that infringe upon another party’s exclusive right to use a registered trademark but can prove that it has obtained the goods lawfully and is able to identify the supplier shall not be held liable for damages. In a case that a trademark holder separately sues sellers, despite no laws requesting the manufacturers to join in the lawsuit, for the purpose of preventing contradictory judgment, the courts could notify him or her requesting joinder. It is the manufacturers that could decide whether acting as a third party to join the lawsuit.
(By Luo Yanjie ) Abstract: Generally, the trademark-right and the right of an enterprise-name are independent of each other. However, these rights, which also act as an enterprise-business-mark-right and are comprised of an intellectual property right, are likely to be so similar in their nature and characteristics that they may objectively cause disputes. To reach a judgment on whether there has been a breach of the principle of good faith and recognized commercial-morality as regulated in the anti-unfair Competition Law, the court would make a judgment based on the particular circumstances of a case.
(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.
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:
(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 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.
by You Yunting
According to the report of China media(note: the link is in Chinese), the iPad battle in mainland China has seen a lifting turn. The parties, Proview and Apple, have come into the phase of reconciliation and price negotiation from the previous heat argument on the court, and the main difference between the parties is the gap on the compensation. But no matter the result is, the decision of Guangdong Higher People’s Court will be delayed for both parties’ willing to the reconciliation. By the report of Jinghua News (note: the link is in Chinese), Apple’s offer of 100 million yuan (1.6 million US dollar) to purchase the iPad trademark has been refused by Proview.
The Introduction to the IPR Administrations in China
We find that it remains unclear to most foreign friends that the division among the administrations managing IPR in China. Actually, it also puzzles local people for it’s hardly to judge the specific function of the administration from its name, for example, the State Intellectual Property Office is in charge of patent management, the industry and commerce administration for trademark, and the Copy Right Office, the managing organ for copyright, is also known as the administration of press and publication. (the image above is the logo of the administrations mentioned in this post)
As reported by Xinhua.com, it was released on the China Industry and Commerce Administration Conference on 26th, December, 2011 that the trademark examination period is further shortened to the current 10 months calculating from the documents submitting to the examination due, and on the other hand, the trademark opposition and dispute hearing could be finished within 18 months, which has reached the level of U.S.A and Japan.
For the rapid development in the economy, the trademark application in China surpassed the annual examinable amount around 2000, which then led to the overstock. And the examination period was prolonged to more than 3 years by the end of 2007. On that account, the administration took series measures to promote the process, and consequently, the examination period was reduced to less than 1 year by the end of 2010.
Highlight: Lashou.com. a well-known daily deal website in China, says that the trademark of “拉手(Chinese pronunciation: lashou)”and“拉手团购(Chinese pronunciation: lashou tuangou)”have not be registered. For this, Bridge IPR Commentary made the retrieval and also put forward our advice.
It’s reported that Lashou.com is not approved for it’s application of the trademark “拉手”and“拉手团购”for their similarity to the registered ones, thus may bring Lashou.com the trademark conflict and the risk of losing its domain name www.lashou.com. If the reported facts do exist, the market of Lashou.com and its operating company Beijing Lashou Internet Technology Co., Ltd (hereinafter called as “Lashou Company”) may be influenced hereby, and even its IPO could be delayed.