China: Evicting The Squatters

Last Updated: 11 January 2018
Article by Marie Ferey and Fabio Giacopello

Several high-profile cases show that trademark owners in China can succeed in removing squatters.

When it was introduced the new Chinese Trademark Law (TML) didn't seem tough enough against trademark squatting, but after three years of implementation we have found that the TML has many resources and provisions that can be used to stop malicious trademarks.


On January 24, 2011, an individual called Hongqun Liu filed an application for registering 'face book' as a trademark before the Chinese Trademark Office (CTMO). It designated "vegetable canned food, potato chips" in class 29, "coffee beverage, tea beverage and candy" in class 30, and "fruit juice (beverage), iced (beverage), vegetable juice (beverage)" in class 32. The trademarks were preliminarily approved by the CTMO.

Social media platform Facebook later undertook legal action in order to invalidate the trademarks and succeeded at the Beijing No. 1 Intermediate Court. According to article 44 of China's TML, the Court stated: "If improper means are found in the examination stage of trademark application, it is detrimental to restrain such means by cancellation of a registered trademark instead of rejecting the registration at the approval stage".

In this case, Facebook succeeded in proving that Liu had filed multiple applications for 'face book' trademarks in many different classes. Besides, Liu has also registered reproductions and imitations of others trademarks with high reputation.


In the early 2000s, Qiaodan Sports, a Chinese sportswear company, started using "乔丹" and 'Qiaodan' (transliteration in Chinese characters and pinyin [Mandarin Chinese written in the Latin alphabet] of 'Jordan') to market its products. The company filed trademark applications for "乔丹" representing a silhouette of a basketball player in mid-leap, a 'jumpman' pose made famous by Michael Jordan in connection with the Air Jordan line of trainers made by Nike. In 2012, Jordan filed proceedings to cancel the registration of Qiaodan's trademark "乔丹".

On December 8, 2016, the Supreme People's Court invalidated three "Qiaodan in Chinese characters" trademarks, recognising Qiaodan Sports' bad faith and that the 'Jordan' name is well-known in China. Jordan established his fame in China starting around 1984, long before Qiaodan Sports filed its first disputed trademark application, and has an influence not just in sports but in other industries in China, which increases the likelihood that Qiaodan Sports' use of 'Jordan' in Chinese characters would mislead consumers into believing there is a connection between them.

However, the Supreme Court rejected Jordan's claim on the pinyin translation of his name 'Qiaodan'—since this version may not be closely linked with the former basketball player.

Salvatore Ferragamo

Salvatore Ferragamo is the owner of several trademarks in China including the words 'Salvatore Ferragamo', enjoying high fame and reputation worldwide in the luxury fashion industry. A Chinese company registered two trademarks covering lighting apparatus and other goods in class 11 in 2012 and 2011.

Ferragamo filed invalidation actions against these trademarks on the grounds that these marks constituted a wilful copy and imitation of its well-known marks in bad faith (article 13.2 of the TML).

The court recognised the 'Salvatore Ferragamo' trademarks as well known for "clothing" in class 25. The court further ruled that the contested marks were almost identical with Salvatore's well-known trademarks in terms of lettering and overall visual effect, and target consumers of clothing—popular consumer products—so they would overlap with those of lighting, cooking apparatus and other products designated by the contested trademarks.


A Chinese individual filed a registration for the trademark 'Nuxe' in China. Laboratoire Nuxe filed an opposition against this application. The court explained that Chinese consumers can usually access relevant advertisements posted from abroad. Moreover, in order to characterise the malicious intention, the court pointed out that the contested trademark 'Nuxe' has gained a good reputation in its industry in China and the trademarks were highly similar with the same combination of a tree design. The court rejected the application according to article 31 of the prior trademark law (article 32 in the new TML).


Trunkbow Asia Pacific, a Chinese company, applied for registration of "微信" (Weixin) as a trademark on November 12, 2010, about two months before the launch of the Weixin instant messaging service by Tencent.

Tencent has extensively used the mark "微信 " (Weixin) for its instant messaging services, known as 'WeChat' in English, and the trademark is highly recognised throughout China.

However, despite Trunkbow's application being filed before Tencent itself applied to register the "微信" mark on January 24, 2011, and also before Tencent had commenced use of the mark, the Beijing IP Court invalidated Trunkbow's trademark based on article 10(1)(8) of China's TML, which prohibits trademark protection of any words that would be "detrimental to socialist morals or customs, or have other unhealthy influences".

In other words, the potential confusion to many WeChat users would negatively impact the public interest and "stability of the market order", thereby resulting in an "unhealthy influence" to society. The decision is unique, not followed by others and is highly criticised by some scholars.


Apple applied to register 'iPhone' as a trademark in China in 2002 in class 9 for "electronics". The iPhone products were announced in January 2007 and launched in the US market in June 2007. The iPhone was launched in China only in 2009. Xintong Tiandi Technology filed a trademark application for 'iPhone' in September 2007.

In 2012, Apple brought a case before the Chinese courts for removal of Xintong's trademarks based on article 13.2 (well-known trademark) and article 10(1)(8) ("unhealthy influence") of the TML. In the last decision rendered, the Beijing Higher People's Court rejected all of Apple's claims based on the fact that most of the evidence of use of the word 'iPhone' submitted by Apple was taken after the date of filing of the opposed trademark.

Therefore, the evidence presented was insufficient to show that the word 'iPhone' had attained well-known status before the application date of the opposed mark. In fact, at the filing date, Apple's iPhone products had only been launched for three months in US market.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Practice Guides
by Mondaq Advice Centres
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Related Topics
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions