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IPR Special ... ...
    IN BRIEF (Page: 9, Date: 03/06/2006)

2006-03-06 07:02

Disney lawsuit

The Shenzhen Medium People's Court opened a court session on February 20 in response to Walt Disney Co, which has accused Shenzhen-based children's clothing manufacturer Mickeyle of using Disney's registered trademark "MICKEY&CO" and "MICKEY UNLIMITED" without permission on its products. Walt Disney Co asked Mickeyle to stop using its trademark and demanded reparations of 600,000 yuan (US$74,600).

Walt Disney Co also insisted that Mickeyle's trademark image was similar enough to its own that it would cause confusion among consumers.

Adobe victory

Leading software producer Adobe Systems Inc received 300,000 yuan (US$37,300) in reparations in a software piracy case last month in Chengdu, Southwest China's Sichuan Province.

In March 2003, the Chengdu Administration of Industry and Commerce found that a local information technology (IT) company had installed 55 pirated copies of Adobe software in 22 of its computers for commercial purposes. Adobe Systems immediately filed a lawsuit against the company in the Chengdu Intermediate People's Court.

It took nearly two years for the court to finally rule in favour of Adobe Systems. The case was the fourth intellectual property rights (IPR) lawsuit Adobe had won in China and the first such victory for an international software company in western China.

IPR protection

Chinese Vice-Premier Wu Yi has urged domestic businesses to shoulder greater social responsibility for the protection of IPR. She also encouraged them to make better use of IPR to develop their businesses and protect their interests.

Wu, also the head of the State IPR Protection Working Group, made the remarks in a speech at a February 23 conference in Beijing on IPR protection and independent innovation. The Chinese Federation of Enterprises and the Chinese Association of Entrepreneurs organized the conference, which attracted more than 300 businesses from home and abroad, including China Construction Bank, China Telecom, Lenovo, and Siemens (China). Conference participants signed a written proposal appealing to businesses to use only legal software.

Wu also pledged that the Chinese Government will continue to push IPR protection in the years to come, and promised to set up reporting centres in 50 major cities throughout the country.

Counterfeit lighters

The People's Court at Ouhai in Wenzhou, East China's Zhejiang Province recently sentenced ZIPPO lighter counterfeiter Zhen Shengfen to prison for one and a half years and fined him 100,000 yuan (US$12,400).

In March 2005, the Wenzhou Ouhai Administration of Industry and Commerce searched a department in a routine check and found 32,980 counterfeit ZIPPO lighters and 6,000 fake lighter shells. All the lighters and shells were labelled "ZIPPO" and "MADE IN USA". The administration immediately informed US authorities of the situation.

Zhen was quickly arrested. The counterfeit lighters had an estimated average market price of 6.2 million yuan (US$770,000).

Trademarks threatened

A Shenzhen-based company applied to register 128 famous mainland trademarks in Hong Kong in December 2005 and January 2006, according to an IPR agency in Beijing on February 20.

The trademarks cover more than 20 industries including pharmaceuticals, IT, clothing, food and chemicals. More than 30 of them are well-known Chinese trademarks. If they are pre-registered in Hong Kong, a number of mainland companies will have to pay astronomical ransoms for their trademarks, or be forever banned from the Hong Kong market.

The 128 trademarks will be granted legal protection within three months if no opposition is raised. Experts called on the mainland companies involved to legally protect their rights as quickly as possible.

Cheaper TV chips

Changhong Electric Co Ltd announced on January 20 that its patented digital automatic convergence chip, Hongxin No 1, is now being used in the mass production of TV sets.

Zhang Enyang, deputy director of Changhong's Technology Centre, said only two TV manufacturers in the world can design and make these kinds of chips. The chip sells for around US$10 on the international market, but Changhong's chip only costs 10 yuan (US$1.24).

Changhong's chip and Hisense's Hiview chip developed last year are evidence of Chinese TV companies' shifting focus from TV assembly to technological research and development.

(China Daily 03/06/2006 page9)


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