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BBC Awarded 1 Million Yuan in first-instance Judgment

Recently, Beijing Haidian District People's Court made a first- instance judgment on a trademark infringement and unfair competition disputes between the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and Beijing Aiyuba Technology Co., Ltd. The Court held that Aiyuba's unauthorized use of the "BBC" logo constituted trademark infringement and unfair competition, ordering it to cease infringement and indemnify BBC 1 million yuan in damages and reasonable expenses.

BBC claimed that it enjoys exclusive rights of three registered trademarks including No. G918771 "BBC", and that the trademark in dispute and its corporate name "BBC" have a high reputation in China. Aiyuba unauthorizedly used the "BBC" logo on two websites, one WeChat public account, and five mobile apps developed by it, infringing BBC's exclusive right of the registered trademarks. In parallel, the unauthorized use of the British Broadcasting Corporation and its abbreviation "BBC" had caused the public to mistakenly believe that the goods and services provided by Aiyuba had a specific association with BBC, which constituted unfair competition. Therefore, BBC sued Aiyuba at Haidian Court, requesting the Court to order Aiyuba to cease infringing BBC's trademarks and indemnify 1 million yuan in damages and reasonable expenses.

Aiyuba argued that BBC did not actually use the trademarks in mainland China, and its use of the words and logos did not infringe the plaintiff's exclusive right to use the trademark. In addition, the radio, television and news programs run by BBC are different from the English language content of Aiyuba and they are not competitors. In addition, the British Broadcasting Corporation is not commercially used as a trade name in mainland China, which is not subject to "trade name" prescribed in the Chinese Unfair Competition Law.

Haidian Court found that the use of the word "BBC English" on the website, WeChat public account, and mobile phone apps by Aiyuba Company should be regarded as use in the sense of trademark law. The distinctive part of the relevant logo used by Aiyuba Company is "BBC" and the overall visual effect is similar to the trademark in dispute, which constitutes trademark infringement. Although BBC is mainly engaged in broadcasting, it also provides learners with audio and other materials. There is a competitive relationship between the two parties. In addition, the BBC's trade name and its abbreviation BBC belong to the "trade name" provided in the Chinese Unfair Competition Law, and have a certain influence on Chinese English learners. Therefore, the Court held that the related acts of Aiyuba Company constituted unfair competition.

It is reported that Aiyuba has appealed. CIP News will follow the developments of the case.

Source: China Intellectual Property News, CNIPA
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