Court Supports Jeremy Lin’s Right of Name Claim, Denying Local TM Free Rider
Beijing High People's Court recently concluded a trademark dispute between Jeremy Shu- How Lin, a professional basketball player from the U.S., and Wuxi Risheng Sports Company, and held that the "林 书 豪 Jeremy S.H.L." trademark registered by Risheng damages the right of name owned by the former National Basketball Association (NBA) star, upholding the trial court judgment and denying all Risheng's claims.
No.8511637 (the trademark in dispute) was filed for registration by Risheng on July 26, 2010, and would be approved to be used on Class 25 goods including clothes, kids' wears and baby overalls on August 7, 2011.
On September 20, 2012, Jeremy filed an invalidation request to the former Trademark Review and Adjudication Board (TRAB), requesting revocation of the registration of the trademark in dispute.
On March 3, 2014, the former TRAB held that the media report evidence provided by Lin can prove he has become an instant hit in a short period of time after being drafted by the NBA in 2010. The passport Jeremy submitted reveals that his English name is Jeremy Shu-How Lin and "林 书 豪 "（Note: official Chinese translation of Shu- How Lin) is his Chinese name used in public activities and media report. The trademark in dispute "Jeremy S.H.L." is structured with his first name in English and initials of his full Chinese name "林 书 豪". The trademark in dispute will highly probably damage the right of name owned by Jeremy when registered and used on goods including clothes, which are somewhat relevant with the specific sport Lin plays -- basketball and the commerical value he intends to generate. Therefore, the former TRAB made a decision to revoke the trademark in dispute by citing "prejudice the prior rights of others" in the Article 31 of the Chinese Trademark Law (2001 Amendment).
The disgruntled Risheng brought the case to Beijing First Intermediate People's Court, but would only experience another setback. Then it appealed to Beijing High People's Court.
Beijing High held that, considering the nature of the case, Lin's right of name may be protected based under the Chinese Trademark Law. The evidence can prove that as the first- ever Chinese- American drafted by the NBA, Lin is well- known to the Chinese public before the registration of the trademark in dispute and the Chinese name "林书豪" has a solid association with Lin. As a sporting goods business, Risheng should have known Lin's above- mentioned business position, but continued registration of the trademark in dispute on goods such as Jeremy Lin at Chinese Basketball Association(CBA).
Source: China IP News