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IPR Special ... ...
    IN BRIEF (Page: 9, Date: 03/13/2006)

2006-03-13 07:59

Trademark applications

China recorded 664,000 trademark registration applications in 2005, up 12.9 per cent year-on-year, according to the Trademark Office of China's State Administration of Industry and Commerce. The increase singled China out as the global leader in trademark registration applications for the fourth consecutive year.

The Trademark Office had received approximately 4.22 billion applications for trademark registration by late-2005. Roughly 2.5 billion of those applications have been granted.

In a campaign last year against trademark infringement, China's Administration of Industry and Commerce identified 87,000 trademark violations.

IPR exhibition

An exhibition showcasing the Chinese Government's efforts to combat intellectual property rights (IPR) violations will be held in Beijing between April 16 and 23.

Co-organized by the National Office of Rectification and Standardization of Market Economic Order, the Ministry of Public Security, the Ministry of Commerce and China Customs, the exhibition is expected to highlight China's progress in IPR protection and raise public awareness.

The one-week show covers the Chinese Government's achievements in protecting trademarks, patents, and copyrights. It will also showcase legislative improvements in China and will promote IPR owned by large Chinese enterprises such as Sinopec and Haier.

The exhibition is part of a lead-up to IPR Day on April 26.

Pearson case

The Trademark Office of China's State Administration of Industry and Commerce rejected an appeal from the publishing and education conglomerate Pearson Public Ltd Co on February 28. The authorities approved a trademark registration application by a Hong Kong-based English school in Chongqing that Pearson says infringed on its Longman brand.

The Mandarin trademark "langwen" is similar to Pearson Education Co's well-known Longwen English dictionaries ("Longman" in Chinese).

A school official said the application was filed six years ago in Chongqing, in Southwest China's Sichuan Province.

Domain increase

The number of applications for domain names with the ".cn" suffix surged to 1,09 million in 2005, up 150 per cent from the previous year, according to the China Internet Network Information Centre (CNNIC). The increase has made ".cn" the most popular suffix in Asia.

Insiders say the trend is the result of fierce competition in the domain name registration service market. According to CNNIC, the average price for a ".cn" domain name slumped from 300 yuan (US$37.3) a year to only 100 yuan (US$12.4) a year. In some cases, the price was even reduced to 65 yuan (US$8) a year, or 5 yuan (US$0.62) per month. Domain registration companies are attracting more applicants by providing additional services such as free online space.

The domain name registration market expanded in 2002, when CINIC changed from the only registration service to an administration that supervises authorized registration service companies.

Counterfeit chocolate

Italian confectioner Ferrero Rocher recently won a copyright suit against a Chinese competitor Montresor (Zhangjiagang) Food, which it accused of copying the packaging of its flagship brand Ferrero Rocher chocolates.

The Tianjing High Court ordered Montresor to pay 700,000 yuan (US$87,000) in compensation and to stop selling its "Tesor Dore" products, which Ferrero alleged were wrapped in deceptively similar packaging to its own Ferrero Rocher chocolates.

Liu Chuntian, a professor at Renmin University and deputy president of the China Intellectual Property Society, said the Chinese chocolates have a slightly different logo, but the wrapping looks similar enough to potentially confuse consumers.

The court ruling signals a change in fortunes for Ferrero Rocher. The Tianjng Second Intermediate Court initially announced in November 2004 that Montresor was innocent because "it had a higher reputation and had been a famous product for a longer period" than Ferrero Rocher.

Privately owned Ferrero has spent US$800,000 over the past several years defending its rights in China. It claims many of its products, including its Kinder chocolate eggs, are copied on the mainland.

Not made in China

Gibraltar-based company Alvito recently applied to register a discriminatory trademark "Not made in China" in the European Union.

The trademark includes two graphic elements plus text, which were filed to EU on December 2005, January and February 2006 respectively. If the application is approved, the trademark will be legal in 25 EU member countries.

Dong Baolin, former vice director of the Trademark Office of the State Administration for Industry and Commerce, said that the trademark would disgrace China's national prestige and dignity.

"Since the trademark is based on intangible assets, it will have a negative impact on the reputation of Chinese-made products," reported the People's Daily.

Experts said that the trademark was unlikely to be approved, however. Under EU trademark law, it usually takes a year to approve a trademark application. After an application is received, it is usually first made public for three months to ensure it is not controversial. The "Not made in China" trademark application is still within that time period.

Earlier reports said Alvito Co had submitted the same application in the United States last September but was turned down.

(China Daily 03/13/2006 page9)


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