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Beijing High: Jaguar Wins 7-year Trademark Battle in China

Jaguar, the world- renowned car brand of Britain's Jaguar Land Rover (JLR), was entangled in a fierce fight over the Jaguar trademark's registration and use on beer and other commodities with a Hunan- based company. After seven years, the dispute ended on a triumphant note for JLR. Beijing High People's Court rejected the appeal of Hunan Jaguar Brewing Technology Company (Hunan Jaguar) and ruled that No. 9573951 trademark "Jaguar" (trademark in dispute) was registered by other improper means, upholding the ruling of invalidating the trademark in dispute by the Trademark Review and Adjudication Board (TRAB) of the former Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC) of China.

The trademark in dispute, originally filed by Absolute Bull (Germany) Brewing Company in 2011 to the Trademark Office of the former SAIC for registration and would be approved for registration on Class 32 goods such as beer and water (beverages) in 2012. In 2014, Absolute Bull filed an application for the transfer of the trademark in dispute to the former Trademark Office. On April 6, 2015, the trademark in dispute was approved to be transferred to Hunan Jaguar Company. Shortly after the application for the transfer of the trademark filed by Absolute Cattle, JLR lodged an invalidation request to the TRAB against the trademark in dispute.

On March 28, 2015, the TRAB invalidated the trademark in dispute. Hunan Jaguar did not buy the decision and subsequently brought the case to Beijing IP Court.

The Beijing IP Court ruled that Absolute Cattle's trademark was obtained by other improper means. Accordingly, the court rejected the compliant of Hunan – based Jaguar Company in its first-instance judgment.

The Hunan-based company was disgruntled with the trial court's judgment and appealed to Beijing High People's Court. Beijing High held that the appellant applied for the registration of trademark in dispute with an intention of plagiarizing and imitating others' trademark. The act not only damaged the legitimate rights and interests of others, but also corrupted the normal order of trademark registration administration which is detrimental to fair competition. The transfer of the trademark in dispute to Hunan Jaguar by the appellant is also suspected of evading legal recourse. The trademark in dispute is subject to other improper means of obtaining registration. In parallel, Hunan Jaguar lacks sufficient factual basis to prove the trademark in dispute has enjoyed certain popularity after extensive use and even if the trademark is actually used, the registration is obtained by improper means and such use lacks legal right basis. In this connection, the Court held that the reason for the appeal of Hunan Jaguar Company could not be established and affirmed the original judgment.

Source: China Intellectual Property News, CNIPA

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