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Taxi app renamed amid Didi trademark dispute

Updated: 2014-05-28 06:57
By Hao Nan ( China Daily)

Taxi app renamed amid Didi trademark dispute

Drivers wait to have a taxi-booking app installed at a service center in Hangzhou. The Didi Dache mobile app has reportedly taken up more than 45 percent of the domestic market. Shi Jianxue / For China Daily

Beijing-based Xiaoju Technology renamed its top taxi-hailing app, Didi Dache, last week, about one month after a trademark case against it.

Several Chinese media outlets reported that the name change was a move to deal with the company's ongoing trademark dispute.

Zhejiang-based Viewin Electronic Co filed a complaint against Xiaoju Technology, which claimed the company infringed its trademark Didi and demanded 80 million yuan ($12.8 million) in compensation.

Cheng Wei, founder and the CEO of Xiaoju Technology, denied the move was related to the dispute and said the new name had been on the company agenda since last year.

He said a trademark application for the new name was filed in March last year and got initial approval in April.

The mobile app is one of the two most popular of its kind in China.

Its new name has the same pronunciation but uses different Chinese characters for Didi.

An investigation by the company showed that about 30 percent of the media and 60 percent of app users prefer the new name, Cheng said at a news conference.

"We have discussed the new name many times and believe it will better promote the company's long-term development," he said.

The new Chinese characters used for Didi also carry the meaning of an old Chinese saying that suggests that the smallest favor can be returned in abundance.

Viewin Electronic registered the trademark Didi in May 2012 for computer software and downloadable applications, including the taxi-book app. The trademark is valid until 2022.

Xiaoju Technology launched their Didi Dache app in September 2012.

The two companies used the same Chinese characters for Didi.

Li Changxu, a lawyer for Xiaoju Technology, said the app's name comprises two parts, Didi and Dache, which is made up of four Chinese characters. He said the name was always used with a logo to form a composite trademark.

Li said there was no violation of the Zhejiang company's trademark.

Shang Jiangang, a lawyer for Viewin Electronic, argued that the core part of the two trademarks was the same and they are used for apps in the same category.

Viewin Electronic was questioned about the timing and motivation of their lawsuit as Didi Dache was launched nearly two years ago.

Wu Xuhua, president of Viewin Electronic, told Qianjiang Evening News that her startup company paid most attention to product research and innovation after gaining the trademark and did not notice the popularity of Didi Dache until the end of last year.

She said the company had informed Xiaoju Technology of the dispute and tried in vain to solve the issue through negotiations.

The Hangzhou Intermediate People's Court recently accepted the case.

Shang said the amount of the compensation was based on the profits of Xiaoju Technology during its two years.

Didi Dache controls more than 45 percent of China's taxi-booking market, according to Analysys International, a leading provider of information products, services and solutions in the Chinese Internet market.

As of March, it claimed to have nearly 100 million accumulated users and is available in 178 cities.

haonan@chinadaily.com.cn

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