China is the country of the big oppertunities for Western trademarks, but also a country of IP pitfalls and where copying seems to be the no. 1 sport. Two big companies have recently been confronted with big IP problems.
Apple is in the middle of a fight with Proview in relation to the iPad trademark in China. Although Apple thought that it had acquired this mark (it remains to be seen whether this is correct) the lesson learned is that you have to register your trademark in China (and other countries) also in the event you only produce in this country. This is because production can be seen as use of a trademark. This suit can have serious consequences for Apple, not only for selling iPads in China but also for the whole worldwide production of iPads. Apple faces more work in China: an Iphone oven has been found (photo).
Hermes found itself too late in registering the Chinese translation of Hermes, “Ai Ma Shi”. A Chinese company already had registered this name and altough Hermes is generally known under this name, the Chinese Board of Appeal did not see any reason for admitting the trademark application of Hermes. Lesson learned: although Chinese love Western trademarks these trademarks remain as Chinese letters for us: not understandable. Therefore, you have to know which translations Chinese use or otherwise introduce one yourself and register this on time!
One person succeeded this week in Chinese courts: Michael Jordan. His transliteration “Qiaodan” had been used by a company also using Jordan’s No. 23. A survey indicated that 90 percent of customers believed the brand was affiliated with Jordan.
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“Trademark protection gives freedom to do business.”