Recent headlines have focused on one of the China Trademark Office's ("CTMO") trademark publication. In June 2016, the CTMO published the mark, (Application No.17451054; Class 39, covering services, such as transportation logistics), for opposition. The applicant is Ningbo Shengbang International Logistics Co., Ltd. Do you see any problems with the publication of this mark?
Many IP people, and now major newspapers, have pointed out that the mark is quite similar to the State Intellectual Property Office of the P.R.C.'s mark, . That's right, the CTMO published a mark that is similar to the Chinese Patent Office's logo, even though it is not registered. Unfortunately, we don't know whether to laugh or cry.
We will analyze provisions of the Chinese Trademark Law that govern the decision of whether to publish the mark, :
Article 30: Where a trademark to be applied for registration is in nonconformity with the relevant provisions of the Law, or it is identical with or similar to the trademark of another person that has, in respect of the same or similar goods, been registered or preliminarily approved, the Trademark Office shall refuse the application without announcement.
Article 30 does not apply to the published mark because SIPO does not have any marks in their own name, not to say the prior mark over similar services in Class 39.
Article 10: The following signs shall not be used as trademarks:
1) Those identical with the names and signs of central state organs, names of the specific locations thereof, or those identical with the names or device of landmark buildings;
SIPO's logo is a sign "of central state organ." However, Article 10.1.1 does not apply because the published mark is not "identical" to SIPO's mark.
8) Those detrimental to socialist morals or customs, or having other unhealthy influences.
The examination criterion explained that Article 10.1.8 includes the following criteria:
- Detrimental to socialist morals: such as "Kill them," or "Fuck"
The published mark is not detrimental to socialist morals.
- Having negative influence on politics
- Same or similar to the leaders' names of States, regions or international politics organizations;
- Detrimental to national sovereignty, dignity and image;
- Numbers bearing political meaning, such as "911;"
- Same or similar to the leaders' names of terroristic organizations, cults, or gangs.
The published mark does not have negative influence on politics.
- Detrimental to race, dignity, or feelings
The published mark is not detrimental to race, dignity or feelings.
- Detrimental to religious faith, religious feelings, or folk belief
The published mark is not detrimental to religious beliefs.
- Same or similar to the names or signs of political parties, governmental organizations, social associations, etc in China
SIPO is a governmental organization and the published mark is similar to SIPO's logo. The CTMO examiner clearly should have rejected the published mark under Article 10.1.8.
- Same to the names of position in political organizations, or names of administrative positions and titles in army in China
This criterion does not apply.
- Same or similar to the patterns, names or symbols of legal tenders in each country
This criterion does not apply.
The question is – how did the CTMO overlook such a reason to reject the mark? Sure, the specific examiner to this case could have been new. But in this day and age, where people can work remotely from home, we think the CTMO ought to join this new age and improve their examination method. Currently, it seems the CTMO is simply relying on examiners' own memory and paper documents.
For those of you who were looking forward to an opposition action against the published mark, we are sorry to report that Ningbo Shengbang International Logistics Co., Ltd. has "voluntarily" withdrawn their trademark application.
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