2014 Christian Dior registered its J’adore perfume bottle as a 3D trademark and also an international registered trademark. Following the Madrid Agreement and the Madrid Protocol, Dior applied a territorial extension protection in China through the international bureau of WIPO. The TRAB of the SAIC rejected the application on July 13, 2015 with the reason of lack on distinctiveness. Dior filed a application for review of the refusal, but was also rejected with the same reason. After that, Dior submitted a administrative case to the court against TRAB’s decision, but failed by first and second instance. At last Dior applied for retrial to the Supreme People’s Court. On April 26, 2018 the Supreme People’s Court of China brought in a verdict that Christian Dior won the trial in the administrative dispute with the TRAB about the review of refusal, the TRAB must re-review this trademark application.
EU SMEs should be made aware of important changes made to the structure of Intellectual Property registration, management and enforcement governing bodies in China which were announced in the context of the annual plenary session of the National People’s Congress (NPC) and the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) (also known as ‘Two Sessions’) which took place in early March. The restructuring of IP management and enforcement bodies is part of a wider reorganization of China’s ministries and agencies in order to increase their efficiency. The date at which these changes will come into effect has not yet been announced.
The following existing entities are to merge together and fall under the umbrella of a newly created State Market Supervision Administration (SMSA):
- State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO): This is the Chinese patent office and it is also in charge of the IP foreign affairs. This is the entity at which European SMEs register their patents in China.
- State Administration of Industry and Commerce’s Function of Trademark Management: Currently Trademark registration is handled before CTMO (China Trade Mark Office), which is under SAIC (State Administration of Industry and Commerce).
- General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine’s Function of “Place of Origin” Label Management (AQSIQ): They are currently in charge of Geographical Indications. GIs are registered here in China by the regional organisations responsible for these GIs.
Trade fairs are a great place for European SMEs to introduce their products to China and to find suitable business partners. With the coming spring there will be many opportunities for European SMEs to participate at various trade fairs in China. SMEs planning to participate in trade fairs should however have the full knowledge of what to do if they happen to find infringing products at trade fairs, in order to be able to protect their business. Thus in today’s blog post we have chosen to discuss how to effectively secure evidence at trade fairs in China.
For companies considering moving into international markets, trade fairs are a key channel to introduce their product to the new market, expand visibility and customer base and seek partners for manufacturing, distribution and retail.For many European SMEs, exhibiting at a major trade fair in China may be the first step towards internationalisation. However, as well as providing business opportunities, trade fairs also pose risks for exhibitors by exposing new products, technology, designs and brands to those who would copy the efforts of others for their own financial gain. In many ways a trade fair can be viewed as a supermarket for local counterfeiters looking for the next great product to copy or brand to appropriate, often to be sold at the same fair that the original product developer would like to exhibit.
Examples of typical infringements found at trade fairs include:
- Displaying and selling counterfeit products bearing the trade mark(s) identical or similar to others’ registered trade mark(s);
- Displaying and selling the products counterfeiting other’s patent rights;
- Utilising others’ copyrighted images, texts in the advertisement and/or company brochure and/or product catalogue;
- Copying others’ products’ design;
- Copying the design of another’s exhibition booth.
Why is collecting evidence important?
Evidence is needed for IPR enforcement. No matter which enforcement action is best suited for the company, the European SME will need to prove that its IPR have been infringed by producing a significant volume of evidence. In China’s People’s Court the burden of proof lies with the plaintiff (claimant) and documentary evidence is far stronger than witness testimony. As well as proving ownership via IPR certificates SMEs must prove the infringement via physical evidence including contracts, photographs of infringing products and proof of sale which have been validated by a notary public (a public officer or other person who is authorised to authenticate documents, evidence etc). If SMEs wish to seek assistance from an administrative body (e.g. the State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC) for trade marks) they must provide a similar body of evidence for the case to be accepted. Continue reading “How to Secure Effective Evidence at Trade Fairs in China” »