The Chinese National Intellectual Property Administration (CNIPA) has unveiled a new plan to combat trademark squatting.
CNIPA’s ‘Special Action Plan for Combating Malicious Trademark Squatting’ was announced on Wednesday in a notice prompting local IP offices to join CNIPA in a new push to target squatters across the country.
CNIPA has identified ten ‘malicious’ acts that constitute infringement or squatting, which will be targeted as part of the special action plan. Among these are the acts of registering trademarks of famous logos, names, places and events.
The plan will be rolled out over three phases, starting this month. The first step will see local IP offices collect evidence and report to the trademark office by March 30th.
From April to October, local trademark offices and CNIPA will review the evidence for validation and issue penalties of up to RMB 100,000 to offenders. From November to December, local offices will summarise their findings and report them to CNIPA by December 10.
The ten malicious acts
The plan will focus on identifying and cracking down on ten acts related to malicious trademark squatting:
- Maliciously registering the names of national or regional strategies, major activities, major policies, major projects, or major scientific and technological projects.
- Maliciously rushing to register vocabulary and signs related to public emergencies such as natural disasters, major accidents, major public health incidents, and social security incidents.
- Malicious pre-registration of names and logos of major events or major exhibitions.
- Maliciously registering the names of administrative divisions, mountains and rivers, scenic spots, buildings and other public resources.
- Malicious squatting on marks of public or commercial resources, including generic names and industry terms.
- Malicious pre-registration of the names of public figures, well-known works or character names with a relatively high reputation.
- Malicious pre-registration of another person's trademark or other commercial mark that has a relatively high reputation or a relatively strong distinctiveness, which damages the prior rights and interests of others.
- Obvious violation of the prohibition of Article 10 of the trademark law and other violations of public order and good custom, which have caused major negative and social impacts on the political, economic, cultural, religious, ethnic and other social public interests and public order of China.
- The trademark agency knows or should know that its client is engaged in the above-mentioned acts, but still accepts its instruction.
- Other obvious violations of the principle of good faith.
The list can be seen in Chinese here.
China has undertaken to reform its IP protection rights over the past few years.
President Xi Jingping has called for stronger protections for rights holders, with offices like CNIPA rolling out new initiatives frequently to help crackdown on trademark bad-faith registrations, copycats, and squatting.
Chinese courts have been awarding higher damages for trademark infringement - a recent case between New Balance and Chinese copycat brand New Barlun resulted in a RMB 25 million award for damages - one of the highest ever issued in a Chinese court.
It has targeted these seven specific types as they
- malicious squatting of the names of national or regional strategies, major events, major policies, major projects, and major scientific and technological projects;
- malicious rushing to pay attention to large Vocabulary and signs related to public emergencies such as natural disasters, major accidents and disasters, major public health incidents, and social security incidents, harming the public interests of the society;
- maliciously registering the names and signs of major events or major exhibitions with a high reputation;
- malicious intent
- Squatting the names of administrative divisions, mountains and rivers, scenic spots, buildings and other public resources
- maliciously registering the common names of goods or services, industry terms and other public commercial resources;
- maliciously registering the names of public figures with high reputation, Names of well-known works or characters; malicious squatting of trademarks or other commercial signs that others have a high reputation or strong distinctiveness, which damages the prior rights and interests of others
A separate document has been issued to rectify the handling of applications for registration of malicious hoarding of trademarks that are not intended for use.
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