China: 如何判断中英文商标之间是否具有近似性?

Last Updated: 28 April 2017
Article by Watson & Band Law Offices

一、案情介绍

戴比尔斯百年有限公司(以下简称戴比尔斯公司)注册并使用"FOREVERMARK"作为其商标,后高文新为经营企业的生产销售需要,注册争议商标"永恒印记"。戴比尔斯公司提出该争议商标与其已注册的英文商标"FOREVERMARK"构成近似商标,商标评审委员会认可。高文新提起行政诉讼,一审、二审均认定构成近似商标。高文新不服,故向最高院提起再审申请。

二、当事人观点

再审申请人高文新主张:1.其为生产经营需要注册争议商标"永恒印记"并实际投入使用,并无"搭便车""傍名牌"的主观恶意。2.争议商标与引证商标不构成近似商标:(1)整体视觉效果不近似。争议商标为中文文字,引证商标为一连串字母组合;(2)含义不同。"FOREVERMARK"是串字母组合,不等于"FOREVER MARK",也可以拆分为"FOR EVER MARK"等,与争议商标不会产生任何联系。即使"FOREVER MARK",也只是译为"永久记号""永恒痕迹"等,也不构成近似;(3)就相关公众的一般注意力而言不近似。争议商标为中文文字商标,易于中国相关公众识读;而引证商标为英文,需要有一定英文基础的相关公众才能识读。3.认定近似商标,应综合考虑知名度、显著性及使用情况等因素:(1)争议商标已经大量投入实际使用,经过长期宣传,具有一定知名度并能够区分出商品来源,而引证商标并无证据证明知名度;(2)争议商标显著性较强,具有极高的独创性和显著性,"印记"为非常用词汇,而引证商标为固有英文单词,显著性较弱;(3)戴比尔斯公司从未实际使用过"永恒印记"且无有效在先商标。

戴比尔斯公司辩称:争议商标与引证商标构成使用在类似商品上的近似商标,应予撤销。

三、最高院意见

判断争议商标与引证商标是否构成商标法意义上的近似商标,应当以相关公众的一般注意力为标准来进行。确定争议的中文商标与引证的英文商标的近似性,需要考虑如下因素:相关公众对英文商标的认知水平和能力、中文商标与英文商标含义上的关联性或者对应性、引证商标自身的知名度和显著性、争议商标实际使用情况等。

1. 相关公众对英文商标的认知水平和能力。这里涉及两个因素,一是我国相关公众对英文文字的认知水平,二是引证的英文商标词汇自身的常用性程度。我国已实行九年义务教育多年,英语是义务教育的重要课程之一,也是最重要的高考科目之一,我国境内相关公众对于常用英文词汇具有一定的认知能力和水平。按照通常的拼读习惯,相关公众容易将"FOREVERMARK"识别为"FOREVER MARK"。同时,"FOREVER"和"MARK"均为使用频率较高的简单常用词汇。故可以认为,相关公众对于引证商标的中文含义具有相当理解力的情况下,容易将引证商标相对应的中文含义与引证商标联系起来。

2. 中文商标与英文商标含义上的关联性或者对应性。这种关联性和对应性可以从中译英和英译中两个角度进行考量。"FOREVERMARK"可译为"永恒印记",同时,"永恒印记"翻译成英文,也可译为"FOREVER MARK"。由此可见,两商标在含义上确实存在呼应关系,相关公众容易将二者对应起来。当争议商标和引证商标共同使用在相同或类似商品上时,相关公众施以一般注意力,容易误认为其商品来自同一主体或者两者之间存在特定联系。

3. 引证商标自身的知名度和显著性。根据当事人提供的证据,戴比尔斯公司在争议商标申请日以前,曾在国内的报纸上采取有奖销售等形式宣传使用引证商标,具有一定知名度。

4. 争议商标实际使用情况。高文新提交的证据主要涉及对争议商标作为企业名称及用于首饰加工服务广告的使用情况,在争议商标核定使用的商品类别上使用规模较小,不足以证明争议商标经过实际使用已经具有较高的市场声誉,更不能证明相关公众已在客观上与引证商标区别开来。

综上,最高院认为一、二审法院认定争议商标与引证商标构成近似商标并无不当,不予支持高文新的再审申请。

四、实践启示

通过这一案例,可以看到,随着全球化进程的发展,英语作为一门国际性语言越来越多地进入公众生活,也随之给传统商标法带来了新的挑战,中英文商标之间近似性的认定问题,已经开始受到法院和商标权人的重视。如最高院在上述案件的判决理由中所述,在实践中,认定中文商标和英文商标是否具有近似性,应多方面因素共同考量。但笔者想特别指出的是,对各因素在判定过程中重要性的比重分配务必要慎重。

首先,相关公众的英文认知水平是首先要考量的,这一点在一定程度上是构成近似商标的前提,如果公众都不能识别该英文词汇,则与中文商标的近似性更是无从谈起。

其次,该中英文商标本身之间需具有较强的关联性,例如含义相同或近似,且使用在类似商品上,易使公众产生误解。

除此以外,引证商标的知名度和争议商标的使用情况应作为辅助因素相互配合加以考量。例如在考虑引证商标的知名度时,并不要求引证商标特别知名,只要相对于争议商标来说,在该领域内更为相关公众所熟知即可。同样,在考量争议商标的使用情况时,不能单纯由生产规模或销售额来认定,如果在商品的主要生产销售地区,争议商标被大量使用并被公众熟知,即使在其它地方争议商标的使用并不普及,也可以认定争议商标具有一定辨识度,可以与引证商标相区别。

综上,对中英文商标相似性的认定,具有较大的主观因素和地域性,应当根据案件的实际情况综合分析,避免一概而论产生不公平的结果。

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