(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 You Yunting) Recently, a news article sparked concern that the Qihu Investment Co., Ltd (a similar Chinese name to Qihoo 360 Technology Co., Ltd) had rushed-registered hundreds of trademarks belonging to internet venture companies. Even though Qihoo 360 Technology Co., Ltd later clarified that it had nothing with the Qihu Investment Co., Ltd, the news still attracted attention from both companies and lawyers.
Many famous companies’ brands, such as Ubuntu, Hotel Tonight and SoundCloud were being rush-registered as trademarks and some have even entered into the process of announcement by the Chinese Trademark Office after a preliminary examination and within three months of the date of the publication. The overseas companies may lose the exclusive right of trademark in China unless they file an opposition against these rush-registrations. Worse, they will not be able to use these brands they have created when entering the Chinese market for a significant length of time. In today’s post, we would like to address how venture companies should resolve trademark squatting.
(By You Yunting) Recently, a news article sparked concern that the Qihu Investment Company (a similar Chinese name to Qihoo 360 Technology Co., Ltd) had rushed-registered hundreds of trademarks belonging to internet venture companies. Even though Qihoo 360 Technology Co., Ltd later clarified that it had nothing with the Qihu Investment Company, the news still attracted attention from both venture companies and lawyers. In today’s post, we would like to address how venture companies should resolve trademark squatting.
(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) In the end of 2013, the Beijing Higher People’s Court rejected Apple Inc.’s trademark opposition towards “苹果” trademark (read “Pingguo” in Chinese and referring to “Apple” in English) under Class 28 for game console against Zhongshan Readboy Electronics Co., Ltd. Thereafter, Apple Inc. has gone through 4 procedures, including the Trademark Office’s opposition proceeding, TRAB’s review procedure and two administrative actions and ultimately lost the “苹果” trademark under Class 28 for game console. The following are abstracts from the judgment of the final trial and our comments.
(By You Yunting) When applying for trademark registration in China, foreign companies are often puzzled by an issue arising out of a translation of a foreign trademark into Chinese being rejected by the Trademark Office due to a language conflict with some preexisting trademark. In our experience, however, if an applicant can prove to the court that its trademark won’t cause confusion with previously registered trademarks, there is a great chance of success in a foreign trademark ultimately being registered. As follows, we will introduce a case where a Chinese court supported the Japanese Shiseido Ltd. Co. in applying for registration of its BéNéFIQUE trademark.
(By Luo Yanjie) Today we would like to introduce a typical case regarding Chrysler Group’s countering a subsequent “free-rider” who attempted to register “JEEP” trademark under Class 2 for oil paint through the anti-dilution legal protection on well-known trademarks.
Introduction to the Case:
Plaintiff: Chrysler Group LLC (the “Chrysler”)
Defendant: Trademark Office of the State Administration for Industry and Commerce (the “Trademark Office”) and Guangdong-based Dongguan Xiehe Chemical Co., Ltd (the “Xiehe Chemical”)
(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: fair use of a registered trademark does not constitute infringement, but users shall both have no intent to infringe and accord with the objective facts. The court facing those cases shall apply Trademark Law to consider the original intention of Trademark Law instead of applying a rigid formula to determine that the infringement shall rely on “whether the results cause confusion”．
(By Luo Yanjie) Generally speaking, using a registered trademark without permission constitutes trademark infringement. However, a few exceptions to the general rule still exist. For example, in today’s post a typical case will be introduced.
(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) In determining the similarity of two trademarks, one must take into account the common understanding among the public as to the trademark and the goods it presents (as well as the source), and the public’s comprehension of the words, pictures, designs, or a combination of all of the above. Concurrently, however, the reputation of the trademark must be taken into consideration in order to determine whether the above factors would lead to confusion as to source among the relevant consumers and market. Generally, trademarks are judged by their similarity with the appearance of another trademark; however, in the following described case, the second instance court also considered the reputation of the reference trademark and the understanding of the consumer in relation to a more comprehensive protection of a well-known brand. The significance of the case is primarily that, due to the millions of trademark applications made in China each year, even subsequently registered trademarks that are incredibly similar to those previously registered may be approved for commercial use by the China Trademark Office, due to strained and restricted resources on its part. In any case, the trademark involved in this case is a well-known one, and for this reason, the court decided that the subsequently registered mark would not be approved for use.