News & Cases from China: May 2020

Published on 29 Jun 2020 | 9 min read

广州红日燃具公司因红日商标侵权及不正当竞争案获赔5000

广州红日燃具公司(简称:红日公司)从1993年起持续使用“红日”字号,经营的“红日”牌厨卫产品在行业在声誉极好。“红日及图”注册商标也曾被商标局认定构成驰名商标。

石某文曾为红日公司市场部员工,2016年离职成立了广东智美电器股份有限公司(简称:智美公司),制造销售“红日E家”集成灶等产品。石某文利用红日公司与经销商建立的销售渠道和网点,进行大规模销售。智美公司终端门店同时使用了“红日厨卫”(原系广州红日公司招牌)和“红日E家”招牌,也同时销售红日公司的“红日”产品和智美公司“红日E家”产品,使用了红日公司售后服务卡、名片等方式混淆商品来源。另外,使用“红日厨卫升级啦”、“大品牌、新形象、新模式”等引人误解的宣传语用于终端门店和微信公众号。

2017年,红日公司将智美公司、4家省级经销商等诉至广州知识产权法院。一审法院认定智美公司及4家省级经销商构成商标侵权及不正当竞争,侵权恶意明显、获利巨大,对红日公司5000万元的赔偿请求全额支持。智美公司等不服,向广东高院提起上诉。

广东高院二审认为,在智美公司制造、销售“红日E家”产品前,“红日”字号已具有较高知名度和影响力,属于反不正当竞争法保护的“有一定影响”的企业名称。智美公司各种宣传与营销手段混淆来源,甚至声称智美公司的“红日E家”是“红日厨卫”的升级版,攀附恶意明显,容易引发相关公众混淆误认,构成不正当竞争。智美公司在与红日公司“红日及图”注册商标核定使用类别相同的产品上使用“红日E家”标识,注册、使用https://protect-eu.mimecast.com/s/DTcvCO775SAqQ3OiRrpSB?domain=redsun-gd.com域名,构成商标侵权。红日公司仅2016年就损失7400余万元,损失巨大。智美公司等在诉讼中拒不提交完整真实的财务账册构成举证妨碍,在诉中禁令作出后继续销售被诉产品,侵权恶意明显。故判决驳回上诉,维持原判。判令智美公司立即停止侵权,赔偿红日公司经济损失5000万元及合理维权费用45万元,4家省级经销商承担连带赔偿责任。迄今为止,该案是家电行业判赔数额最高的知识产权侵权纠纷案。

Guangzhou Redsun Company Awarded CNY 50 Million (approx. US$ 7,000,000) in Trademark Infringement and Unfair Competition Case against ex-employee

Guangzhou Redsun Gas Appliance Co., Ltd. (‘Redsun Company’) has, since 1993, used ‘Redsun’ as both its corporate name, and the brand name for its highly regarded kitchen and bathroom products. Its registered trademark, ‘Redsun and Silhouette’, has been recognized as a well-known trademark by the Trademark Office.

The Defendant Shi is a former employee of Redsun Company.  He left his position in Redsun Company’s marketing department in 2016, and established Guangdong Zhimei Electric Co., Ltd. (‘Zhimei Company’) to manufacture and sell  REDSUNHOME  integrated stoves and other products. Shi used the sales channels and outlets established by Redsun Company and its distributors for large-scale sales. Zhimei Company's stores sold both Redsun products and its own REDSUNHOME products and displayed two signboards:  ‘Red Sun Kitchen and Bathroom’ (the same as signboards used at Redsun Company's store)  and ‘REDSUNHOME’ signboards. In addition, Zhimei Company used Redsun Company's after-sales service cards and business cards, as well as misleading slogans such as ‘Redsun Kitchen and Bathroom Upgrade’, ‘Big Brand, New Image, New Model’ in its stores and WeChat public accounts.

In 2017, Redsun Company filed a lawsuit against Zhimei Company and four provincial distributors with the Guangzhou Intellectual Property Court. The Court of first instance determined that the Defendants had engaged in trademark infringement and unfair competition. It held that the infringement was obviously malicious and fully supported Redsun Company’s claim for compensation of CNY 50 million (approx. US$ 7,000,000). Zhimei Company and the other Defendants appealed to the Guangdong Higher People's Court.

 The Guangdong Higher People's Court rejected the appeal.  It held that before Zhimei Company began its operations, the ‘Redsun’ corporate name had a high reputation and was an "influential enterprise name" for the purposes of the Unfair Competition Law. Zhimei Company used various publicity and marketing methods to confuse the source of commodities, even claiming that Zhimei Company 's REDSUNHOME product was an upgraded version of the Redsun product, which was obviously malicious and could easily lead to confusion among the relevant public.  The Defendants’ behaviour thus constituted unfair competition.

Zhimei Company’s use of the REDSUNHOME and ‘Redsun and Silhouette’ trademarks on relevant products (i.e. products in respect of which Redsun Company's ‘Redsun and Silhouette’ trademark was registered) and its use of the domain name ‘www.redsun-gd.com, constituted trademark infringement, causing Redsun Company extremely large economic loss. Further, Zhimei Company had refused to submit full and complete financial books in the lawsuit, which constituted obstruction of evidence, and had continued to sell infringing products after an injunction had been granted by the Court of first instance.  This amounted to malicious infringement.

Zhimei Company was ordered to immediately stop the infringement, and compensate Redsun Company for economic loss in the sum of CNY 50 million (approx. US$ 7,000,000) and reasonable fees of CNY 450,000 (approx. US$ 63,696). The four provincial distributors were held jointly and severally liable with the Zhimei Company. So far, the award in this case is the highest that has been made in intellectual property disputes in the home appliance industry.

 

上海玄霆公司信息网络传播权及不正当竞争案胜诉

近日,广州知识产权法院对上海玄霆娱乐信息科技有限公司(下称玄霆公司)诉广州神马移动信息科技有限公司(下称神马公司)与广州阿里巴巴文学信息技术有限公司(下称阿里文学)侵犯信息网络传播权及不正当竞争纠纷案作出终审判决。

玄霆公司是《三重血歌》《校花的贴身高手》等作品的著作权人(以下统称涉案作品)。2016年,玄霆公司发现,网络用户在登录书旗小说手机客户端后,通过客户端内的神马搜索可在线阅读涉案作品,并可以将包括涉案小说在内的大量作品下载到手机进行离线阅读。神马搜索的提供者是神马公司,书旗小说手机客户端提供者是阿里文学。因认为二公司的行为涉嫌侵犯了玄霆公司对涉案作品享有的信息网络传播权,玄霆公司将二公司起诉至广东省广州市天河区人民法院。

广东省广州市天河区人民法院认为,涉案作品在神马搜索中可正常阅读,神马搜索中涉案作品所标注的网址与标注的来源网址不一致,这与搜索、链接、实时转码、系统缓存的技术特征不符。神马公司也未提供相反证据证明涉案作品存储在第三方服务器上。神马搜索未经玄霆公司许可,通过信息网络向用户提供涉案作品的行为构成对玄霆公司信息网络传播权的侵犯。

对于被告阿里文学是否构成共同侵权,法院认为:神马搜索引擎是书旗小说APP内嵌唯一搜索引擎,阿里文学对该引擎如何向用户提供涉案作品的在线阅读和下载,主观上应为明知或应知,二者存在共同的意思联络。从客观方面看,书旗小说APP直接向用户提供小说在线阅读服务,并且用户可以选择从书旗小说APP直接跳转至神马搜索,可见二者有深入合作。其次,书旗小说APP使用神马搜索拓宽了用户来源,提高了访问量,阿里文学因此而分享利益。因此,阿里文学构成共同侵权。神马公司与阿里文学不服,上诉至广州知识产权法院。

广州知识产权法院认为神马公司未经玄霆公司许可,通过其运营的神马搜索引擎向用户提供作品的行为,侵犯了玄霆公司的信息网络传播权。阿里文学通过其运营的书旗小说手机客户端与神马搜索深度合作,为被诉侵权作品提供相关服务的行为构成共同侵权,应承担连带赔偿责任。驳回上诉,维持一审原判。

Shanghai Xuanting Company Succeeds in Unfair Competition and Information Network Communication Right Infringement Case

Recently, the Guangzhou Intellectual Property Court made a final judgment in Shanghai Xuanting Entertainment Information Technology Co., Ltd. (‘Xuanting’) v  Guangzhou Shenma Mobile Information Technology Co., Ltd. ('Shenma’) and the Guangzhou Alibaba Literature Information Technology Co., Ltd. (Alibaba Literature’) holding the Defendants liable for unfair competition and infringement of the right to network dissemination of information provided for in Art.2 of the Regulation on Protection of the Right of Communication through Information Network).

Xuanting was the copyright owner of the works Triple Blood Song and School Flower's Personal Master (hereinafter collectively referred to as the works involved). In 2016, it discovered that users of the Shuqi Novels App, a successful e-book app, were able to read the works involved online, using Shenma Search.  They were also able to download a large number of works, including the works involved, to their mobile phones for offline reading. The provider of Shenma Search was Shenma, and the provider of the Shuqi Novels App was Alibaba Literature. Xuanting company sued both Shenma and Alibaba Literature in the Tianhe District People's Court of Guangzhou City in Guangdong Province for infringement of the right to network dissemination of information in respect of the works involved.

The Tianhe District People's Court held that Shenma Search allowed the works involved to be read without Xuanting’s permission. Shenma had, therefore, made the works available through an information network and infringed Xuanting’s right of communication through an Information Network. 

As to whether the Defendant Alibaba Literature constituted a joint infringer, the Court held that as Shenma Search was the only search engine embedded in the Shuqi Novels App,  Alibaba Literature knew, or should have known, that it enabled users to read online or download the works involved.  There was a common meaningful contact between Alibaba Literature and Shenma.. The Shuqi Novels App directly provided users with novels online, and users could choose to jump directly from the Shuqi Novels App to Shenma Search, which indicates that they have an in-depth cooperation. Moreover, the Shuqi Novels App used Shenma Search to broaden the user source and increase the number of visits, so Alibaba Literature shared the benefits with Shenma company. Therefore, Alibaba Literature was a joint infringer.

Both Shenma and Alibaba Literature appealed to the Guangzhou Intellectual Property Court.

The appeal was dismissed.  The Court held that Shenma’s provision of the works involved, via the Shenma Search, without Xuanting’s permission. infringed Xuanting’s right to network dissemination of information. Alibaba Literature had engaged in in-depth cooperation with Shenma to make the works available via the Shuqi Novels App.  This act of providing related services to Shenma constituted a joint infringement.  Alibaba Liuterature was, therefore, jointly and severally liable.



林书豪Jeremy S.H.L.”商标无效宣告行政诉讼案维持原判

无锡日升体育用品公司(下称日升公司)第8511637号诉争商标  “林书豪Jeremy S.H.L.”(下称:诉争商标)获准注册日为2011年8月7日,核定使用在第25类服装、童装、婴儿全套衣等产品上。2012年9月20日,林书豪提出无效宣告请求。2014年3月3日,原商标评审委员会作出第25692号裁定书,认定诉争商标的注册损害了林书豪的姓名权,裁定撤销诉争商标。日升公司不服被诉裁定,向北京市第一中级人民法院起诉。北京一中院判决驳回日升公司的诉讼请求。日升公司不服,向北京高院提起上诉。

北京高院经审理认为,林书豪为美国公民,根据国民待遇原则,美国公民认为诉争商标在中国的注册行为损害了其在先权利,可以在中国境内寻求法律保护。在诉争商标申请日前,林书豪作为首位进入美国NBA的华裔篮球运动员而为中国公众所知悉,可以认定其在中国公众中已经具有一定的知名度,“林书豪”中文译名已经其本人形成了稳定的对应关系。

北京高院认为,日升公司为体育用品行业的经营者,未经许可,在服装、鞋等商品上申请注册诉争商标,容易使得相关公众认为标记有诉争商标的服装、鞋等商品与林书豪存在特定联系。遂驳回日升公司的全部上诉请求,维持原判。

American basketball player, Jeremy Lin, succeeds against trademark squatter

After a long-running battle, Michael Jordan recently prevailed over a trademark squatter. Now, Jeremy Lin, the first American of Chinese or Taiwanese descent to play for the NBA, has done the same. 

In 2010, before Lin had become famous, Wuxi Risheng Sports Utility Co., Ltd, (‘Risheng’) a sports ball maker in eastern China, applied to register the following mark as a trademark in respect of clothing, children’s clothing and other products in Class 25.

The application was approved for registration in 2011.  In September 2012, Lin sought to invalidate the registration on the ground that it infringed his name right. In  March, 2014, the original Trademark Review and Adjudication Board of the SAIC (now the Trademark Office under the CNIPA) found in favour of Lin, declaring Risheng’s registration invalid.  Risheng filed an administrative lawsuit with the First Intermediate People's Court of Beijing Municipality, which was unsuccessful. It then appealed to the Beijing Higher People’s Court.

Risheng’s appeal has been dismissed and the decision of the First Intermediate People’s Court upheld.  The Beijing Higher People's Court held that Jeremy Lin was entitled to seek legal protection of his name rights in China. Before the application date of the disputed trademark, he was known to the Chinese public as the first Chinese basketball player to enter the NBA. It can be assumed that he already had a certain reputation among the Chinese public as did the Chinese translation of his name ‘Lin Shuhao’.  Risheng applied for registration of the disputed trademark without permission, and its use of the mark would be likely to lead members of the relevant public to believe that relevant products bearing the mark had a specific connection with Jeremy Lin. Therefore, the Beijing Higher People's Court dismissed Risheng’s appeal and maintained the judgment of the first instance.

 

奥克斯被判恶意侵犯格力专利权,赔偿4000

2017年1月,格力公司以奥克斯公司制造、销售、许诺销售KFR-35GW/BpTYC1+1等型号的八款空调,重复恶意侵害格力公司的 “一种空调机的室内机”(专利号:ZL200820047012.X)专利权、广州晶东贸易有限公司实施相关销售行为侵害其专利权为由诉至广州知识产权法院,请求判令奥克斯公司停止侵权、赔偿4000万元;请求判令被告晶东公司立即停止销售、许诺销售侵权空调机。

2018年4月,广州知识产权法院一审认为,被诉侵权产品落入格力公司专利权的保护范围,奥克斯公司提出的现有技术抗辩不成立。由于格力公司已就奥克斯公司侵权获利初步举证,而被诉侵权产品获利的账簿、资料主要由奥克斯公司掌握,法院责令奥克斯公司限期提交财务账册。然而奥克斯公司提交的统计表及明细仅涉及四个型号被诉侵权产品,并以封存或内部规定为由明确拒绝提供统计数据所依据的原始凭证。奥克斯公司应承担举证妨碍责任。在本案发生前,奥克斯公司因侵害格力公司同一专利权被一审判决停止侵权,奥克斯公司非但未及时修改侵权技术方案,反而大量制造销售本案八个型号侵权产品,主观恶意十分明显。法院结合被诉侵权产品线上及线下销售额、利润率、贡献率、合理费用等因素,判令晶东公司停止侵权,奥克斯公司停止侵权并赔偿格力公司4000万元。奥克斯公司不服,上诉至广东省高级人民法院。2019年,广东省高级人民法院驳回上诉请求,维持了一审判决。

在执行阶段,奥克斯公司又向广州中院提出执行异议申请,请求中止执行二审民事判决、暂缓将奥胜公司已经全额支付的赔偿款发放给申请执行人格力公司。广州中院裁定驳回奥胜公司的异议请求。奥盛公司不服该裁定,向广东省高院申请复议。

2020年3月,广东高院作出终审裁定认为,广州中院执行裁定法律适用正确,所作处理并无不当,广东高院予以维持。这是迄今为止家电领域判赔数额最高的生效判决。

Gree awarded Compensation of CNY 40 Million (approx. US$ 5,600,000) in Patent Infringement action against Aux

Gree Electric Appliances, Inc., a major appliance manufacturer and the world’s largest residential air-conditioner manufacturer, headquartered in Zhuhai in Guandong province (‘Gree’), has succeeded before the Guandong Higher People’s Court in patent infringement proceedings against Ningbo Aux Air Conditioner Co Ltd (‘Aux’).  The damages award in the case is one of the highest IP awards to date in the home appliance industry.

In 2017, Gree brought a patent infringement action before the Guangzhou Intellectual Property Court against Aux and Jingdon Trading Co., Ltd (‘Jingdon’).  It claimed that Aux had intentionally and repeatedly infringed its patent for “an indoor air conditioner unit” (Patent No.: ZL200820047012.X) by making, selling, and offering for sale eight types of air conditioner, including KFR-35GW/BpTYC1+1, and that Jingdong had infringed its patent by selling and offering for sale the air conditioners manufactured by Gree. Gree sought an Order that Aux immediately cease the infringement and pay compensation of CNY 40 million (approx. USD 5,600,000), and that Jingdong cease selling and offering for sale the infringing air conditioners.

In April 2018, the Guangzhou Intellectual Property Court held at first instance that the alleged infringing product fell within the scope of Gree’s patent, and that Aux’s prior art defence could not stand. Gree had provided preliminary evidence of the gains Aux had made from the infringement, but, as the relevant books of account were mainly held by Aux, the Court ordered it to submit the relevant material within a specified time. Aux provided statistical data relating to only four types of the infringing product and refused to provide the original material on which the statistical data was based.  The Court, therefore, decided to award damages on the basis of the evidence provided by Gree in relation to both online and direct sales. It ordered Aux to cease the infringement and compensate Gree in the sum of CNY 40 million (approx. US$5,600,000), and Jingdon Trading to cease the infringement. 

Aux appealed to the Guangdong Higher People's Court. In 2019, the Guangdong Higher People's Court rejected the appeal and upheld the first instance decision.

Aux then lodged an Enforcement Objection Application with the Intermediate People's Court of Guangzhou City, pursuant to Art.224 of the Civil Procedure Law, requesting suspension of execution of the civil judgment and postponement of payment of the full amount of compensation. The Court rejected the application and Aux applied to the Guangdong Higher People’s Court for reconsideration.

In March 2020, the Guangdong Higher People's Court upheld the Intermediate People’s Court’s decision and proceeded to enter the ruling.

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