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China’s Supreme People's Court Rules Against Bili in a Trademark Dispute Attracting Nationwide Attention

China’s Supreme People's Court( SPC) has reversed the first and second instance judgments made by two lower courts in a trademark case attracting nationwide attention, according to news released on January 4.

The case relates to a disputed “ honeysuckle(“金银花”in Chinese)” trademark.

Since 2018, hundreds of mosquito-repellent “honeysuckle” floral water manufacturers across China have been sued for allegedly infringing the “honeysuckle” trademark owned by Shanghai Bili Cosmetics Co.,Ltd (hereinafter referred to as “Bili”).

Bili sought over 12 million Yuan in total in its widespread lawsuits against the “honeysuckle” floral water manufacturers and won in most cases.

A number of manufacturers were ordered to compensate from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands yuan to Bili for infringing the trademark.

Many appealed in courts across China. Among them, the appeal filed by Suzhou Shiyan Biology Household Necessities Co.,Ltd. (hereinafter referred to as “Shiyan”) was accepted by the SPC in March 2022.

Last Thursday, Shiyan received the judgment issued by the SPC to reverse the lower courts’ judgments.

In its ruling, the SPC reasoned that “honeysuckle” is a traditional Chinese herbal medicinal ingredient lacking distinctiveness and therefore Shiyan’s use of “honeysuckle” in the name of its products don’t constitute infringement.

This decision aligns with a previous "honeysuckle" trademark invalidation by the China National Intellectual Property Administration (CNIPA) in September 2022.

Interestingly, historical data indicates that the CNIPA had canceled the "honeysuckle" trademark back in 1994 due to "improper registration". However, despite the 1994 decision, implementation was not carried out due to unknown reasons. Eventually, the trademark was transferred multiple times and landed with Bili.

Source:China Intellectual Property

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