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SIPO: YSL Says No to Copycat

Renowned French luxury brand, Yves Saint Laurent (YSL) gained a happy ending of a 6-year trademark dispute over No. 7450422 "YSL" trademark (trademark in dispute) with the legal representative of Hangzhou Binlu Clothing and Leather Goods Company.

Beijing High People's Court recently wrapped up the dispute with its final-instance judgment, awarding the YSL - owned "YSL" trademarks well-known trademark privileges, potent enough to defeat registration of the trademark in dispute.

In 1984, YSL filed for trademark registration of the No. 225262 "YSL" and No. 226462 "YSL" trademarks (the reference trademarks) to the TMO and obtained the official approval to use the trademarks on Class 25 goods including clothing, shoes and hats in 1985.

In June 2009, the trademark in dispute was filed by an individual surnamed Pan, certified to be used on goods such as towel blankets and bath towels. After preliminary examination, the TMO published the trademark in dispute in January, 2012.

YSL soon filed an opposition request to the TMO in March, 2012. In March, 2013, the TMO rejected the registration of the trademark in dispute.

Pan then applied for reexamination to the Trademark Review and Adjudication Board (TRAB).

After examination, the TRAB held that the trademark in dispute and the reference trademarks are not similar trademarks used on the similar goods. However, before the filing date of the trademark in dispute, the reference trademarks had been well-known to the public and enjoyed a high reputation, therefore the reference trademarks could be identified as well-known trademarks for use on goods such as clothing. Accordingly, the TRAB turned down the registration of the trademark in dispute in its reexamination decision.

The disgruntled Pan then brought the case to Beijing IP Court.

Beijing IP Court held that the trademark in dispute and the reference trademarks constituted similar trademarks for use on similar goods so it is not necessary to reference to the related rules on well- known trademarks prescribed in the Trademark Law of China. Therefore, the Court revoked the reexamination decision made by the TRAB and ordered it to remake a decision. Both Pan and the TRAB took their appeal to the Beijing High People's Court.

The Beijing High People's Court sided with the TRAB holding that the reference trademarks constitute well-known trademarks in China. When the public consider buying the relevant commodities, they will easily associate the trademark in dispute to the reference trademarks to some extent. This will dilute the distinction of the reference trademarks or exploit the market reputation of the reference trademarks, prejudicing the rights and interests of YSL in the process.

In this connection, Beijing High dismissed the appeal of Pan and affirmed the reexamination decision of the TRAB.


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