(By Luo Yanjie) Today we will introduce an example of a trademark squatting case where a Chinese online game operator rush-registered a trademark. In this case that trademark was canceled by Trademark Review and Adjudication Board.
(By Luo Yanjie) Today we will introduce a typical example of a trademark squatting case. Unilever recently succeeded in defeating trademark squatting after it undertook a nine year objection to prevent a similar trademark from being registered under a different class.
On May 28, 2003, Mr. Shi filed a personal application for “POND’S/ 旁氏” (the “disputed trademark”) under Class 5 for tonics (medicine), baby milk powder, air fresher, sanitary napkins and dental lacquer. However, in the period of trademark opposition for primary publication, Unilever filed an opposition, alleging that its prior registered “旁氏/POND’S” trademark (the “reference trademark”) had become a well-known trademark in China. Unable to achieve a supporting judgment from the Trademark Office and the Trademark Review and Adjudication Board (the “TRAB”), Unilever brought the case to the court.
(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 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) Abstract: trademark application may take a long time. If the applicant encounters any change on its subject qualification, it shall handle the trademark transfer procedure as soon as possible, or otherwise the trademark could be cancelled.
It normally takes about one year from submitting the trademark application to the right granting. If during the application process it encounters any opposition, the time it takes for right granting adjudication would be much longer, possibly extending to several years. While during that period, the applicant may face a change on its subject qualification, and then will the trademark application be influenced in such a situation? In today’s post, you will see a typical case that we would like to share it with our readers.
(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.
(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.
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?
By Albert Chen
Trademark assignees may sometimes encounter an awkward situation: the target trademark is in the hands of a company that has had its business license revoked or that has been cancelled. Although the trademark is still valid, others seem to have no legitimate means to acquire it. So, under these circumstances, does the assignee really have no means to acquire the trademark? In today’s post, you will find the answer.
I. Why would trademarks be left unused?
According to relevant statistics, the average life of Chinese companies is seven years, and the average of life of privately owned companies is only 2.9 years. On the other hand, however, the validity period of a trademark is ten years, and there is nothing in Chinese law that states that the trademark shall automatically become invalid when the business license of its holder is revoked or the company is cancelled. Especially when the business license has been revoked, the company still has legal capacity. It is merely incapable of conducting civil acts, including the use and transfer of trademarks, because its business license or chop has been announced invalid or has been confiscated under the punishment of business license revocation.
By You Yunting
About one month before, the IPR Committee of Shanghai Bar Association invited the police officer from the Economic Investigating Squadron of Shanghai Police Department to deliver a speech on the criminal protection over IPR issues. And in the communication after the seminar, the police officer raised a question to the acceded lawyers, “The Shanghai Disney Land will be constructed several years later, and it’s foreseeable that there could be stores selling Mickey Mouse or other figures articles with no license thereby granted around the park. Yet, by then, the copyright protection term on Mickey could be expired, and so what measures could be taken to strike the unlicensed using or selling?”
By Albert Chen
We posted to discuss what classes shall DOTA like online game to register their trademarks several days ago. In a country like China where the infringement is not rare, it’s suggested to apply the trademark in relevant classes as many as possible, and today we would like to discuss the way to make the strategy on trademark and the advantages and disadvantages of the full-class registration of trademarks.
I. The full registration of trademarks is suggested for the current condition in China