(By You Yunting) China is a heavily administrated and controlled country. If administrative approval is not obtained, business activity such as producing and selling of Alcoholic beverages, medicine, etc., could be ruled to be invalid by the court. According to the Trademark Law of China, once the trademark has not been used for three continuous years, it could be eliminated. There is a significant amount of people who uses their right to their trademark however, many people fail to obtain the proper administrative approval or violates administrative rules. This brings us to the issue of whether or not such a trademark should be removed even though it has been used. For this kind of cases, we find an example in the 10 annual cases of 2011 promulgated by the Supreme People’s Court of China. In that case, the Supreme Court overturned its opinions expressed in the previous year, “Kangwang Trademark Dispute”, in which the court determined that despite a shortage of administrative approval, the using of the trademark is sufficient according to the Trademark Law.
(By You Yunting) The Luzhou Qian Nian Liquor Co., Ltd. (“Company L”) found that its competitor, the Shandong-based Zhu Ge Jia Liquor Co., Ltd. (“Company S”) acquired three trademarks from a company that had its registration for the marks cancelled five years prior to the trademark transfer. Following this, Company L filed a request to have the trademark revoked, because it had not been used for a continuous three-year period. However, the Trademark Office denied the application, and Company L requested a review of the decision, which was also rejected, leading Company L to ultimately file an administrative lawsuit. In the lawsuit, Company L was equally unsuccessful, and the court refused its demands in both the first and second instance. Following a series of rejections, Company L then appealed the case to the Supreme People’s Court (“Supreme Court”) for a rehearing.
(By Luo Yanjie) For the infringement caused by OEM in China, different courts hold different opinions in China, and in this essay you could see a case describe the infringement determination. The determination of trademark infringement should be subjected to whether or not potential consumers would be confused when making their decision to purchase the product. If the potential consumer is not confused by the product, then it should not be considered as an infringement.
(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.
I. The Supreme People’s Court and Local People’s Courts Successively Released White Books on Judicial Protection of Intellectual Property in 2012 and Model Cases.
On April 22, before World Intellectual Property Day, the Supreme People’s Court released the White Book on Judicial Protection of Intellectual Property By Chinese Courts in 2012 (the ”White Book”) and Model Cases embodying new Issues related to intellectual property protection.
Afterwards, the local people’s courts successively released local white books on local intellectual property protection and local model cases. On April 25, the Shanghai High People’s Court held a press conference and released the White Book of the Shanghai People’s Court on Intellectual Property Adjudication in 2012 and Ten Key Cases.
(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.
“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:
(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 “first right.” The decision can be considered a clarification of the “merchandising right” by the judicial organs as well as broadening the scope of first rights.
(By Luo Yanjie) In 2001, the globally known sportswear brand Adidas acquired a trademark certificate issued by the Trademark Office of the State Administration of Industry and Commerce (“SAIC”), namely a certificate numbered 1489454 for the “three slants” trademark, which was approved in Class 25 for clothing, ball shoes, hats, socks and other similar products; in addition, the certificate numbered 1536558 for the “three slants” trademark was approved in Class 18, which covers bags, clothing case, traveling bags and belts. On June 21 2003, Adidas transferred the trademarks to its affiliates.
(By Luo Yanjie) Pfizer is the holder of a blue, diamond-shaped mark (the “Pfizer trademark,” number: 3110761). The trademark was approved in Class 5 for pharmaceutical preparation, medicines made for human consumption, antibiotics, medical nutrition supplements, cleaning agents, and veterinary preparation. The registration period for the trademark commenced on May 28, 2003 and will expire on May 27, 2013.
On July 21, 2005, Pfizer representatives purchased a box of medicine priced at RMB 50 yuan from the New Concept Company. The medicine was mainly intended to cure “erectile dysfunction.” The front and back cover of the package contained both “Viagra” and “TM,” which was underlined and accompanied by the diamond image. The manufacturer was printed as “Jiangsu Lian Huan Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd” (“Lian Huan”) dated on April 14, 2005. The opaque inner packaging also contained the words “Viagra” and “TM,” as well as the manufacturer “Lian Huan.” The packaging of the medicine was also diamond-shaped, in accordance with the shape of the tablet. The medicine itself was light blue in color, diamond compass shaped, and contained the words “Viagra” and “TM.” Pfizer believes that these products constituted three-dimensional trademark infringement and thereby sued the manufacturer and seller.
— 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.
We introduced you to the first instance of Britney Spears’ trademark administrative lawsuit yesterday, and today we will continue that discussion concerning the second instance and provide our comments on the case.
In February 2012, Britney Spears appealed to the Beijing High People’s Court citing her dissatisfaction with the first instance decision. The court of second instance decided that as a first right, the right of publicity and use of one’s name is protected by Trademark Law. Furthermore, any unlicensed registration of the trademark would cause damage to the right of name when the relevant public mistakes the origin of the product or service with the name owner, or when the relevant consuming public believes there is an association between the two parties. Therefore, to determine whether a disputed trademark will harm the right to use one’s name, one must first consider whether the owner of the name is well known or popular. Moreover, to determine whether the relevant right will be regarded as a first right, the relevant date is the registration date of the disputed trademark. The focus of this case is whether Britney Spears was widely known in Mainland China among the relevant consuming public before the registration date of the disputed trademark, in this instance November 20, 2000; also, whether the relevant consuming public would be confused as to the source or origin of “布兰妮” or “Britney” as being substantially similar to the name Britney Spears, and thus inferring a relationship between the two parties.
(By Luo Yanjie) In past posts, we have introduced you to the trademark squatting of Yi Jian Lian, which is the name of a well-known basketball player in China. Today, we are going to show you another similar decision:
On 20th November 2000, Suzhou Yisheng Fashion Co., Ltd. (the “Yisheng Company”) applied for the trademark “布兰妮Britney” in Class 25, covering clothing articles, such as shirts, suits, coats, overcoats, skirts, t-shirts, wind coats and down jackets. The Trademark Office of the State Administration of Industry and Commerce (the “Trademark Office”), after conducting a preliminary examination, published the application on its No. 807 Trademark Announcement. Britney Spears filed an opposition to the Trademark Office within the statutory period.
We are often consulted by clients asking what standards are used to determine trademark squatting, and why was malicious squatting found against Sony Ericson and HERMES but denied against COCA COLA or LANDROVER? Furthermore, once a trademark application has damaged anothers’ name right, copyright, or trade name right, what standards do courts use to determine infringement. Under the Trademark Law, what measures can be taken to protect the trademarks of well-known fictional figures, such as 007 or Harry Potter?