Step by step - trade marks in China (Brands & IP Newsnotes - issue 4)
08 February 2017
Brand owners will take comfort from a decision of China’s highest Court (the Supreme People’s Court of China) in early December. As part of a long running battle between former basketball star, Michael Jordan, and Chinese sports manufacturing giant, Qiaodan Sports, the former basketball star has finally come out on top – at least in relation to one specific trade mark. Overturning decisions from the lower courts, the Supreme People’s Court revoked a trade mark held by Qiaodan for “Jordan” represented in Chinese characters.
So is this a sign of things to come? Perhaps. But getting to a point where western brands feel comfortable that their trade mark rights will be recognised and enforced consistently, particularly against local ‘copycats’, is likely to be a marathon not a sprint.
Nike and the “Jordan” brand have been available in the Chinese market since the 1990s. Nike registered the English word “Jordan” in China during that period but not the Chinese transliteration of 乔丹 or Qiaodan. In the early 2000s Qiaodan Sports applied to register, and obtained, a series of trade marks for these. But it was not until 2012 that Jordan sought to challenge that use. And consistent with the experience, or at least the commonly held perception, that many western brands have of trade mark proceedings in China, the lower courts sided with the local firm, dismissing the claims that use of those marks infringed Jordan’s rights.
So whilst the recent decision of the Supreme People’s Court is welcome, it’s significance should not be overstated. It is in truth only a small part of a wider dispute between Jordan and Qiaodan involving many registrations. It is therefore unlikely to signal a significant change of approach generally. The harsh reality is that protecting and enforcing IP rights in China remains a challenge, even for the biggest of brands. It will take time before the tide truly turns.
This article was first published in the Brands & IP newsnotes publication - issue 4
Christmas counterfeits – How did you fare? (Brands & IP Newsnotes - issue 4)08 February 2017
At the end of 2016 the OECD/EUIPO released research suggesting that the total trade in counterfeit and pirated products in the EU amounted to as much as 85 billion Euros in 2013. Luxury goods are top of the list and firmly in the sights of counterfeiters for Christmas. So what was done to tackle the problem for Christmas 2016?
Rubik’s Cubes: In a spin (Brands & IP Newsnotes - issue 4)08 February 2017
Those of us of a certain age will remember the frustration of trying to complete a ‘Rubik’s Cube’. But following the CJEU’s ruling that the trade mark registration for the shape of the famous puzzle is invalid; it is the owner of the original Rubik’s Cube 3D puzzle that will be feeling frustrated.
Unregistered designs: Open and shut case (Brands & IP Newsnotes - issue 4)08 February 2017
In a recent case, Action Storage (a producer of lockers, such as the ones installed in schools) sued G-Force (another producer of lockers) for infringing its design rights in producing a similar product.
Hacked off? Data breaches abound (Brands & IP Newsnotes - issue 4)08 February 2017
The inevitable rise of the data breach, otherwise known as the ‘hack’, continued unabated in 2016. The UK government reported that two thirds of ‘large’ business (i.e. greater than or equal to 250 employees – regardless of revenue) “experienced a cyber-breach or attack in the past year”.
New Year’s resolutions for better IP (Brands & IP Newsnotes- issue 4)08 February 2017
Why stop at making personal resolutions for the New Year when you can make them for your IP too. The start of the year is an excellent time to consider your general IP strategy and even to introduce new practices that will make protecting, using and enforcing your IP that much easier in 2017.
IP myth busters (Brands & IP Newsnotes - issue 4)08 February 2017
Myth and legend is not just the stuff of Lord of the Rings. There are plenty of ommon misconceptions in intellectual property which are often further exacerbated by statements on the internet and the popularity of TV shows where legal ‘advice’ or commentary may be given. Here are a few of the most common ones we hear and the truth behind them.
UK proceeding with UPC (Brands & IP Newsnotes - issue 4)07 February 2017
The UK government announced that it will proceed with the Unitary Patent and the Unitary Patent Court (“UPC”). This ends months of speculation in the patent community as to what would happen afterthe Brexit vote last June. The UK was a mandatory signatory to the UPC Agreement and there had been concern that the project would stall in light of the UK’s European exit. Only Germany is left to ratify the Agreement and it is expected that the UPC will open in December this year.