The Beijing High Court recently overturned a first-instance judgment relating to a certification trademark filed by the Keemun Black Tea Association. In its decision, the court emphasised that geographical indication trademark applicants bear a higher obligation and must act in good faith when submitting filing documents, including by not producing forged application files and giving a full and accurate account of the circumstances.
Data released by the Beijing Intellectual Property Court shows that bad-faith filings and registrations account for 30% of all trademark-related administrative suits, making them a major concern for brand owners. Recent case law of the China Trademark Office, the Trademark Review and Adjudication Board and the judiciary reveals how brand owners could be more strategic in fighting bad-faith filing under the existing trademark legislative framework.
The Shenzhen Intermediate Court recently demonstrated that, when seeking financial compensation, all efforts made by a plaintiff to prove the scope of patent infringement – even if its findings are not based on official accounting records – may be appreciated and rewarded by the courts. Factors such as a defendant's behaviour or an oral admission may assist the courts when determining damages.
It is acknowledged doctrine that if an accused trademark exhibits substantial similarity to copyrighted works, copyright infringement can be established once the accused has demonstrated access to the copyrighted works, unless the accused can prove that the accused work is the result of its independent creation. Such doctrine applied in a recent Beijing IP Court case, in which the court found that the opposed mark infringed a prior copyright.
The question of how stylised word marks should be examined often arises. In a recent case, an applicant obtained a registration for a word mark comprising three stylised Chinese characters, even though the visual arrangement of the characters rendered it a device mark and not a word mark. One solution to this issue that has been proposed would be to treat such marks as composite trademarks, comprising both a word and a device mark, and thus subject them to substantial examination as both.