China Facts: China trademark infringement of its own brands



China's "first-to-file" trademark law (as opposed to the "first to use" rule in America and Britain) means that speedy filing by locals can stop original brand-owners in China. In August the Lego Group won a case against Lepin, a Chinese toy manufacturer and copycat of its colourful brick sets, which was made to pay damages of 15m yuan to the Danish firm. It was one of the largest trademark-related awards ever made by a Chinese court. Lately Chinese brands are finding that they too are increasingly targets of foreign squatters. Like their Western counterparts, Chinese firms are finding registration by others hard to overturn, partly because they have been slipshod in storing files to prove a first-to-use right. Secondly in the EU only their visual component is recognised in trademark law, not their pronuniciation or their conceptual meaning. That makes them easy to copy, for example with homonyms that could fool Chinese-speaking buyers abroad.*)


*) the Economist 6th October 2018












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Hans Henrik Pontoppidan
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