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      News & Cases from China: February 2021

      Published on 29 Mar 2021 | 5 min read

      CNIPA Issues Measures to Improve the Quality of Patent Application  

      In January 2021, the China National Intellectual Property Administration (CNIPA) issued a Notice introducing further strict regulation of patent applications (the Notice).  It  reflects a focus on quality rather than quantity, aiming to improve the quality of patent applications by eliminating irregular applications.  It also provides  for the elimination of all monetary subsidies for patent applications by the end of June 2021. The scope of the existing local funding should be limited to granted invention patents (including invention patents authorized overseas through PCT and other means), and the funding should be in the form of post-grant subsidies. All local post-grant funding should be gradually reduced, and cancelled by 2025.

      Following the issue of a draft Regulation for comment in February, on 12 March 2021 the CNIPA released the Regulation on Patent Application Activities, with immediate effect.  The Regulation sets out some of application activities that will be considered ‘irregular’:

      1. filing, simultaneously or successively, a number of applications for the same invention, or for a simple combination of different features or elements of the invention;
      2. fabricated, forged or altered content relating to the invention creation, experimental data or technical effect, including plagiarized or reworked prior art, in the submitted patent application;
      3. applications that are obviously inconsistent with the applicant's actual R & D capability and resource conditions;
      4. applications based on data generated randomly mainly by computer program or other technology;
      5. applications not based on technical or design improvement; applications not aimed at protecting innovation, but at reducing the scope of protection of prior art; and applications relying on improper means to overcome Patent Office objections ;
      6. multiple bad faith applications submitted separately, successively or in different places in order to avoid the regulatory measures aimed at cracking down on bad faith patent applications;
      7. patent applications or granted patents bought or sold, or with false change of inventor or designer, not for the purpose of exploiting the patented technology, design, or other legitimate purpose;
      8. patent agencies, patent agents, or other organizations or individuals acting as agents, inducing, abetting, helping others or conspiring with others, to implement an irregular patent application; and
      9. other irregular patent applications and related behavior that violate the principle of good faith and disturb the normal order of patent work.

       国知局发文规范申请专利行为

      2021年1月,国家知识产权局发布《关于进一步严格规范专利申请行为的通知》(《通知》),进一步规范专利申请行为,提升专利申请质量,消除不以保护创新为目的的非正常专利申请行为。《通知》同时明确,2021年6月底前要全面取消各级专利申请阶段的资助。地方现有资助的范围应限于获得授权的发明专利(包括通过PCT及其他途径在境外获得授权的发明专利),资助方式应采用授权后补助形式。各地方要逐步减少对专利授权的各类财政资助,在2025年以前全部取消。

      今年2月,国家知识产权局发布关于就《关于规范申请专利行为的办法(征求意见稿)》公开征求意见的通知,以确保实现专利法鼓励真实创新活动的立法宗旨,规范申请专利行为。

      3月12日,国知局发布《关于规范申请专利行为的办法》,自发布之日起施行。《办法》规定了非正常申请专利行为的种类,包括:

      (一)同时或者先后提交发明创造内容明显相同、或者实质上由不同发明创造特征或要素简单组合变化而形成的多件专利申请的;

      (二)所提交专利申请存在编造、伪造或变造发明创造内容、实验数据或技术效果,或者抄袭、简单替换、拼凑现有技术或现有设计等类似情况的;

      (三)所提交专利申请的发明创造与申请人、发明人实际研发能力及资源条件明显不符的;

      (四)所提交多件专利申请的发明创造内容系主要利用计算机程序或者其他技术随机生成的;

      (五)所提交专利申请的发明创造系为规避可专利性审查目的而故意形成的明显不符合技术改进或设计常理,或者无实际保护价值的变劣、堆砌、非必要缩限保护范围的发明创造,或者无任何检索和审查意义的内容;

      (六)为逃避打击非正常申请专利行为监管措施而将实质上与特定单位、个人或地址关联的多件专利申请分散、先后或异地提交的;

      (七)不以实施专利技术、设计或其他正当目的倒买倒卖专利申请权或专利权,或者虚假变更发明人、设计人的;

      (八)专利代理机构、专利代理师,或者其他机构或个人,代理、诱导、教唆、帮助他人或者与之合谋实施各类非正常申请专利行为的;

      (九)违反诚实信用原则、扰乱正常专利工作秩序的其他非正常申请专利行为及相关行为。

       

      Trade Mark Agency Fined for Bad Faith Trade Mark Application

      The Yixing Market Supervision Administration in Jiangsu province conducted an on-site inspection of the business premises of a private trade mark agency, Yixing Chuangming Trademark Office Co., Ltd. (Chuangming). Chuangming had filed 66 applications on behalf of its client, a brand management company, Yixing Yangming Brand Management Co., Ltd. (Yangming), knowing that the applications were malicious and that Yangming had no intention to use the marks.  The applications were for registration in eight international classes (19, 20, 21, 30, 35, 41 and 43 And 44). Chuangming’s conduct contravenes Article 4 (1) of the Several Provisions on Standardising Application for Trademark Registration, which provides that trade mark agencies must adhere to the honesty and integrity principle: “Where a trade mark agency is or should be aware that the entrusting party falls into any of the following categories, it shall not accept the entrustment to apply for trade mark registration: (1) malicious application for trade mark registration without intention of using it as stipulated in Article 4 of the Trade Mark Law”.

      The Yixing Market Supervision Administration gave warning to the parties and imposed a fine of CNY 10,000 (Approx. USD 1,538).

      代理机构代理商标恶意申请被罚

      宜兴市市场监督管理局执法人员对宜兴创名商标事务所有限公司(下称创名事务所)经营场所现场检查。经检查发现,创名事务所在明知宜兴市扬名品牌管理有限公司(下称杨名公司)不以使用为目的恶意申请商标注册,依然接受其委托并作为代理机构给杨名公司申请商标注册66个,涉及19、20、21、30、35、41、43 和44等8个国际分类。创名事务所的上述行为构成《规范商标申请注册行为若干规定》第四条第(一)项“商标代理机构应当遵循诚实信用原则。知道或者应当知道委托人申请商标注册属于下列情形之一的,不得接受其委托:(一)属于商标法第四条规定的不以使用为目的恶意申请商标注册的”所述行为。

      综上所述,宜兴市市场监督管理局依法对当事人做出警告并罚款10,000元的行政处罚。

       

      BURBERRY Granted Preliminary Injunction against BANEBERRY in Trademark Infringement and Unfair Competition action  

      Burberry Limited (Burberry), the well-known British luxury fashion house, discovered that a Chinese company, Xinboli Trade (Shanghai) Co., Ltd. (Xinboli), had registered and was using the mark Baneberry, along with other marks similar to Burberry's registered marks, including the Burberry check mark, on and in relation to its clothing products.  Further, it had imitated the style and design of Burberry's clothing, as well as the shape of product hangtags and packaging bags, and even used the British Royal warrant, which signifies that products have  been supplied to a member of the Royal Family.  It also made misleading statements about the company’s history. Burberry filed a trademark infringement and unfair competition action with the Suzhou Intermediate People's Court of Jiangsu Province and applied for a preliminary injunction.

      In terms of the likelihood of infringement, the Court held that, ‘Burberry’ and other marks used by the company are very well known to consumers in China, and qualify as well-known trademarks. Although the trademark used by the Defendant is a registered trademark, Burberry’s marks were well-known in China before the date of application of the allegedly  infringing trademark. Based on the application for registration, and Xinboli’s conduct and use of the alleged infringing trademark, it is apparent that the alleged infringing trademark was registered in bad faith; therefore, although it has been registered for more than five years, it is not subject to the five-year time limit for invalidity. The Court ruled that the Defendant’s behavior was likely to constitute trademark infringement and unfair competition.

      As for the urgency of the injunction, the Court held: first, the scale of the infringement is huge and failure to take immediate action would cause irreparable damage to Burberry’s legitimate rights and interests; secondly, the alleged infringement is likely to lead to confusion and misunderstanding among consumers, seriously detracting from the company’s goodwill and weakening the distinctiveness of Burberry’s well-known trademarks; and thirdly, the annual Spring Festival holiday and peak sales season is approaching.

      Thus, the Court granted an injunction restraining Xinboli from use of the allegedly infringing trademarks.

      BURBERRY 诉 BANEBERRY 获其在华首例禁令

      博柏利公司(BURBERRY LIMITED)发现新帛利商贸(上海)有限公司在其服装商品上使用了与博柏利公司注册商标相同或近似的商标,并且全方面摹仿BURBERRY服装的款式和设计,吊牌、包装袋的形制等,甚至在服装吊牌上使用英国皇家标识,虚假宣传其品牌历史、来源等,故以商标侵权及不正当竞争为由向江苏省苏州市中级人民法院提起诉讼,并同时对被告上诉行为申请了保全裁定。

      法院经审理认为:就侵权可能性而言,博柏利公司的“BURBERRY”等商标(下称引证商标)极具知名度,具备被认定为驰名商标的可能性。虽然被告使用的商标为注册商标,且已经被注册超过五年,但是被诉侵权商标申请注册日期之前,博柏利公司的引证商标已事实上处于驰名状态,且综合被诉侵权商标申请注册、流转以及实际使用状态,能够认定被诉侵权商标系恶意注册,应不受五年时间限制。

      此外,本案被诉侵权行为存在对涉案驰名商标的恶意复制和模仿,使用与博柏利公司被特许使用的英国皇家标识高度近似的标识,全方面摹仿博柏利公司产品的吊牌、包装袋,以及在经营过程中使用刻意仿冒博柏利公司品牌历史的虚假宣传等一系列行为,存在构成商标侵权和不正当竞争的可能性。

      关于行为保全申请是否具有紧迫性,法院认为:首先,被诉侵权行为规模巨大且增幅明显,不立即采取措施将导致博柏利公司的市场份额被大幅抢占,经济损失难以计算。其次,被诉侵权行为极易导致消费市场的混淆和误认,不立即采取措施,将严重贬损申请人的商誉,削弱博柏利公司驰名商标的显著性和识别性。第三,当下即将进入一年一度的春节假期这一服装销售黄金期,责令停止被诉侵权行为具有现实紧迫性。

      除上述因素,法院还着重审查了博柏利公司的权利状态及其稳定性;损害平衡性以及责令停止相关行为是否会损害社会公共利益等,最终对被告做出行为保全禁令。

       

       (cited trademark)

      (alleged infringement trademark)

      CNIPA Reports on Achievements of its ‘Blue Sky’ Campaign

      The China National Intellectual Property Administration (CNIPA) launched its ‘Blue Sky’ campaign two years ago, with the aim of cleaning up and improving IP agency services.  Since then it has severely cracked down on irregular trademark and patent application agency behavior, and strengthened the supervision of agencies.

      It recently reported that during the two years of the ‘Blue Sky’ campaign, 2,950 patent and trademark agencies were questioned and 1,095 ordered to rectify their practices; 330 cases were filed and investigated; and 182 administrative penalties imposed.

      “蓝天”行动成果公布

      自2019年起,国家知识产权局在全国范围内组织开展知识产权代理行业“蓝天”专项整治行动,快速打击非正常商标、专利申请代理行为,加大对重大案件的查办力度等一系列措施,全面加强行业监管。

      据国家知识产权局运用促进司司长介绍,知识产权代理行业“蓝天”专项整治行动开展两年来,共约谈专利、商标代理机构2950家,责令整改1095家,立案查处330起,作出行政处罚182件。

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