Judges Urge Trademark Applicants to Be More Honest
Individuals and enterprises should be more honest when applying to register trademarks since many applicants have lost lawsuits due to deception in recent years, Beijing judges said.
"The trademarks we found were incompatible with the applicants' actual products or services, meaning they might easily mislead or even defraud consumers, so we didn't support them in handling relevant cases," Zhang Jian, a judge at the Beijing Intellectual Property Court, said on Wednesday.
For example, an investment consulting company sued the China National Intellectual Property Administration because its application for a trademark named Li'an Fund was rejected by the government department, according to Zhang.
But the court ruled in favor of the administration "because the company had no qualification in the fund business," he said, adding that consumers would misunderstand the enterprise's service if the trademark was registered.
In another case, a Shenzhen-based technology company came to the court after it failed in its effort to register a trademark called Quan Tian Ran for its products of shampoos, hair dyes and cosmetics at the administration.
The court did not side with the company, "as quan tian ran in Chinese means 'all ingredients are natural', which isn't suitable to be used in products like shampoos," said Luo Mingxin, another judge at the court. "Consumers might be easily be misled to believe that the goods contain no chemicals when seeing such a trademark."
Additionally, some applications for trademarks that included the name of a place or country were also identified as "deceptive" because those applicants were not from those areas, he said.
For instance, a company from Jilin province initiated a lawsuit against the administration after the authority disagreed with its application of a trademark called Yue Gang Ao for its wine products, he said.
"Yue gang ao in Chinese means Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao," Luo said. "If the Jilin company used such a trademark, consumers might be confused with the wine's producing area, so we overruled its application."
Since the IP court was open in 2014, trademark administrative cases have accounted for more than half of all IP-related disputes, many of which have been initiated by companies after their applications were rejected by the administration, said Song Yushui, vice-president of the court. She added that the court supported the administration in about 81 percent of such lawsuits.
"That means the administrative and judicial authorities have the same understanding on what should be identified as deceptive trademarks in most cases," she said.
She suggested individuals and enterprises be honest and prudent when applying to register trademarks, preventing fake or exaggerated designs or descriptions of their products or services to protect consumers' right to know what the goods or services are.
She said the honesty of market entities will also contribute to creating an orderly business environment and maintaining high-quality development.
Source: China Daily