To read News & Cases from China: August 2021, please click here.
CNIPA Releases Data for the First Half of 2021
On 14 July 2021, at CNIPA’s regular third quarter press conference in Beijing, the semi-annual statistical data relating to patents, trademarks, geographical indications and layout design of integrated circuits were released.
The data contained three highlights:
1) The continued improvement in intellectual property rights’ examination. As of the end of June, the average examination period for invention patents had been reduced to 19.4 months; the examination period for high-value patents to 13.4 months; and the average examination period for trademark registration to less than 4 months.
2) The number of enterprises with invention patents had increased steadily. By the end of June, there were 270,000 enterprises with valid invention patents, an increase of 24,000 compared with the end of last year. Among these, 126,000 were high-tech enterprises with a total of 1.077 million effective invention patents, accounting for 62.3% of the total number of invention patents.
3) The number of intellectual property rights registered by foreign applicants in China continues to increase. In the first half of the year, foreign applicants registered 54,000 invention patents in China, a year-on-year increase of 30%, and 90,000 trademarks, an increase of 7.5% year-on-year. The number of American applicants for invention patents increased by 35.0% and for trademark registrations by 8.9%.
CNIPA Issues Suggestions on the Amendment of the Measures for the Registration of Patent Pledge (Draft for Comments)
On 20 July 2021, CNIPA released a draft Proposal on Revision of the Patent Pledge Registration Method for comment.
The main changes to current law are:
1) in addition to the original methods of mailing and submitting in person, an online processing method is introduced;
2) the processing time for mailing and submitting in person is reduced from seven to five days; online processing time is two days;
3) both pledgor and pledgee can consult CNIPA’s registration documents; and
4) the parties can make a commitment to meet relevant requirements instead of filing relevant documentation at the outset, provided they accept all legal liability for non-fulfilment of the commitment. This will make the registration process simpler and faster.
The aforementioned changes aim to facilitate and promote intellectual property pledge financing by providing a more standardized, convenient and efficient patent pledge registration service.
L'OCCITANESA Awarded compensation of 9 Million Yuan (approx. US$ 1.386 Million) for trademark infringement
M&L Laboratory Company (formerly known as L’Occitanesa) is an internationally renowned multinational company that produces fragrance, facial and body care products under the brand name L'OCCITANESA. Since 2008, its L'OCCITANESA cherry blossom series moisturizer and bath gel (bath lotion) have been its main products in China. In 2016 It registered a cherry blossom graphic trademark, No. 17800581, and in 2019 it became aware that a product named "Cherry Blossom Highlight Body Lotion" was being sold in Junda Biotechnology Development Company’s (Junda) online store. The product bore a cherry blossom graphic similar to the L’’OCCITANESA trademark and was packaged in a bottle similar to that in which the L’OCCITANESA product was marketed. The manufacturer of the goods in question was Guangzhou Ailian company (Ailian).
The Hangzhou No.1 Intermediate People's Court held that both Junda and Ailian (Defendants) had engaged in trademark infringement and unfair competition. It ordered the two companies to stop the infringement and pay 3 million yuan（approx. US $ 462,000） and 6 million yuan（approx. US $ 924,000） respectively as compensation. The Defendants appealed to the Zhejiang High People’s Court.
The Zhejiang High People’s Court upheld the decision of the Hangzhou No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court in relation to both trademark infringement and unfair competition. The Defendants knew that the L'OCCITANESA blossom products were famous and had maliciously taken advantage of the brand, imitating it comprehensively, both the trademark and packaging. Further, they had used product information similar to that used in relation to the L'OCCITANESA cherry blossom products - even including the expression "data comes from L'OCCITANESA " - and they had continued to infringe after the action was filed. The subjective malice of the Defendants’ actions was obvious.
As for the compensation award, the Court held that the Defendants had not proved that their sales volume had been generated by click farming (a method used to inflate sales volume as a means of demonstrating the goods’ popularity). The basis for Hangzhou No.1 Intermediate People's Court’s compensation determination was, therefore, correct.