Baby products brand Beaba sues copycats for using ‘BEABA’ logo on baby diapers

Beaba, a famous baby products brand, recently filed before the Hangzhou Internet Court a civil action for copyright infringement and unfair competition action against four defendants for their unlawful use of Beaba’s special-designed logo “BEABA” on the latter’s baby diaper products.

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In said action, Beaba claims that it has been producing baby feeding and baby food preparation products since its establishment in 1989 in France, and had entered the Chinese market since 2010. Since its establishment, Beaba has originally created and has used the special-designed logo “BEABA” on their baby products, and therefore enjoys the copyright over the same. Meanwhile, Beaba’s special-designed logo “BEABA” and its enterprise name “Beaba” has gained a high degree of popularity and reputation.

Beaba claims that, without their authorization, four Chinese companies have sold baby diaper products bearing the “BEABA” logo.

Given this, Beaba filed an action for copyright infringement and unfair competition before the Hangzhou Internet Court alleging that, the defendants’ unauthorized use of the “BEABA” logo which is identical or highly similar to Beaba’s logo on baby diaper has infringed Beaba’s copyright. Moreover, as Beaba’s enterprise name “Beaba” has gained a high degree of popularity and reputation, such enterprise name should be protected under Article 6 of the Unfair Competition Law, and the defendants’ use of the characters “BEABA” may mislead the public, thereby amounting to unfair competition in accordance with Article 6 of the Unfair Competition Law. Beaba likewise demands that the defendants cease and desist from their infringing activity and to pay RMB 3 million in damages. Continue reading “Baby products brand Beaba sues copycats for using ‘BEABA’ logo on baby diapers” »

OEM Manufacturing and Trademark Infringement in China

“Made in China 2025” policy forced Supreme People’s Court to Change Direction on OEM Manufacturing Exception to Trademark Infringement

Introduction

For years Western companies have relied on Chinese factories to manufacture their products at low cost and export them back to other markets to be sold with high margin of profit. This is normally referred to as OEM manufacturing, where OEM stands for Original Equipment Manufacturer. This was for decades the main business model for China’s industrial and economic development and it earned China the nickname of “World’s Factory”. In recent years, things have changed. China is now a market with hundreds of millions of consumers buying foreign products online or traveling and shopping abroad, while cheap manufacturing is moving elsewhere to be replaced by High-Tech businesses. In this evolving socio-economic landscape, OEM manufacturing has lost its prior standing in the government policies. China is now projected towards a further integration of its economy into the global capital system. Aside from the already renown “Belt & Road” initiative, China has recently launched “Made in China 2025”, a new grand plan to showcase China’s own brands and industries to the world and move away from being the world’s “factory” to an economy producing higher value products and services.

This policy change embodied in the “Made in China 2025” program, is also reflected in the recent legal developments concerning the relation between OEM manufacturing and trademark infringement. This article will explore the evolution of such relation and will comment on the most recent leading decision on this topic issued by the Supreme People’s Court this October 2019.

Continue reading “OEM Manufacturing and Trademark Infringement in China” »

E-Commerce Platforms Up, Trademark Holders Down!

The First China E-Commerce Law lightens the burden of E-commerce platforms when dealing with IPR infringements, while making it more expensive and burdensome for the holders of IP Rights!

The long awaited E-commerce Law of the PRC has been finally approved, entering into force on August 31, 2018. This is the first Law that expressly regulates the relation between IPR owners and e-commerce platforms. The Law seems to favor e-commerce platforms by shifting the whole burden to the right holders to prove infringement in case of disputed takedown notices. Compared to the established business practices, the Law appears to be more e-commerce than IP friendly.

1. An overview of the relevant provisions

Instead of providing strict rules regarding the protection of IP rights online, the new Law has simply codified the current practices on takedown notices. This will leave it to the e-commerce platforms to continue self-regulate the procedures for the takedown of IPR infringing content. In particular, the Law has neither introduced any measure or standards to lighten the burden of proof of infringement of the right holders when filing takedown notices, nor has provided a procedure of effective cross examination of the defenses filed by the alleged infringer in case of disputed takedowns. The platform retains the discretion to examine and interpret the evidence and is free from the burden of having to make a final decision in case of a disputed takedown notice. This is particularly critical in those cases in which the alleged infringer denies liability, shifting the whole burden on the right holders to overcome such refusals by filing judicial or administrative lawsuits!! As we shall see below, this will give counterfeiters a good tactical advantage and will likely increase the number of disputed takedown notices in the future.

Also, the Law does not provide any strict obligation and standards imposing on the platforms the creation of preventive IPR protection systems. Article 45 of the Law only provides a generic obligation for a platform to take appropriate protection measures if the former knows or should have known that a user has infringed others IP rights. Aside from failing to define the standard of “knowledge”, the provision refers to cases where the infringement has already taken place. No specific obligation to prevent postings of obviously infringing content has been introduced, thus freeing the platforms from the obligation and burden of having to take preventive measures. If any such measures are or will be in place, this will be the result of lobbying and self-regulation, and not a consequence of this new law.

As we mentioned above, the Law acknowledges that the IPR holders have a right to request the removal or the block of infringing content by filing a notice with the platform, which must be supported by prima facie evidence of infringement. This is nothing new. It has been the common practice of e-commerce to allow so called takedown notices supported by evidence of infringement.

Like in the consolidated business practice, the Law allows the alleged infringer to defend itself by filing a response to the notice supported by evidence. However, and unlike the text of the 3rd and last draft, the final text of the Law has added to the safe harbor rule of e-commerce platforms, a 15 days time limit for the IPR owner to file a litigation or complaint (maybe with the IP office) or drop the case. If a lawsuit/complaint is filed, the take down measures already taken by the e-commerce platform will remain in place, with the e-commerce platform’s measures becoming a de facto “preliminary injunction”. If not, the measures will be revoked. In practice, an unlike the previous drafts, the platform is taking no further responsibility in deciding who is right or wrong and the law helps her out of trouble by forcing the right holder to escalate the dispute to the judicial level. Continue reading “E-Commerce Platforms Up, Trademark Holders Down!” »

IPR Protection Strategies within the Healthcare Sector in China

The healthcare sector in China is developing rapidly as the rising middle class becomes more and more concerned about quality healthcare services, which are currently quite scarce in China. This, on the other hand,  provides many opportunities for the European SMEs active in the healthcare sector. However, SMEs should pay attention to protecting their IP rights when entering to the lucrative market of China because counterfeiting and other IP infringements still persist in China. For today’s blog post we have chosen to share with you an infographic that will provide you with a basic and easy to read  overview of IP protection in the healthcare sector in China.

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CALISSONS EN DANGER – DES LEÇONS À TIRER ET À RETENIR

Le blogue d’aujourd’hui a été rédigé pour nous par notre expert  en propriété intellectuelle Maître Philippe Girard-Foley de GIRARD-FOLEY & Associates en réponse à la couverture médiatique de l’affaire de Calissons d’Aix. Dans cet article de blogue  Maître Girard-Foley explique le cas en détail et donne quelques conseils sur quelles mesures pourraient être prises pour protéger la marque.

Introduction 

Les médias français résonnent de nouvelles alarmantes concernant l’appropriation des Calissons d’Aix par « la Chine » qui démontrent une grave méconnaissance du sujet. Il paraît urgent de réintroduire dans ce débat un peu de rationalité, ne serait-ce que pour le bénéfice des fabricants concernés et de producteurs français placés dans des conditions semblables de supposée vulnérabilité.

Une marque sans valeur ?

Une marque « Calissons d’Aix » ne vaut rigoureusement rien en Chine sur le plan commercial. Ceci pour la simple et pourtant évidente raison que les mots la constituant sont  incompréhensibles et impossibles à mémoriser pour un consommateur chinois.

La seule valeur de cette marque pourrait être de nuisance, faisant obstacle à l’entrée sur le marché chinois du produit authentique, ce qui serait donc une valeur de rachat.

En termes commerciaux, ce qui compte est (i) la translittération en langue chinoise, basée sur un concept ou sur une analogie phonique, car celle-ci est reconnaissable par le consommateur chinois et (ii) la marque figurative de l’apparence distinctive du calisson. Continue reading “CALISSONS EN DANGER – DES LEÇONS À TIRER ET À RETENIR” »