There is no doubt that Eileen Gu is an “A List” athlete and it was duly proven during the Beijing Winter Olympic games in early 2022, winning three gold medals representing China.
Recently, China's national heroine added another big victory in her medal collection but this time is not related to the sports field but to the intellectual property area.
On May 18th, 2022, the Shijiazhuang Yuhua District Market Supervision Administration issued an Administrative Penalty Decision against a Shijiazhuang trademark agency and company for attempting to trademark the name of Eileen Gu's Douyin account, TikTok's sister app in China.
The controversy started on February 11th, 2022, when a company named Hebei Yi Biotechnology Co., Ltd (hereinafter Hebei Yi Ltd), contacted Wang YY, an employer of a trademark agency in Shijiazhuang, to apply the trademark “Frog Princess Eileen Gu” both in English and in Chinese characters, in classes 9, 25 and 28. For those who do not know, the nickname “Frog Princess Eileen” is the profile name of Eileen Gu's Duoyin account active since 2018 and become more popular during the Olympic games of 2022 for sharing videos of her athletic performances.
However, even if Ms. Gu did not apply and registered as a trademark her Duoyin profile name, Shijiazhuang Bureau stated that due the huge social media coverage and influence, Ms. Gu has the prior rights to the names of her Douyin registered account “Frog Princess Eileen” and the scope of protection for “Frog Princess Eileen” is more powerful than the general right of trade names.
On May 5, 2022, during the trial, Shijiazhuang Bureau delivered the document to the parties declaring that according to law, the Applicants concerned failed to submit an application for statement, defense and hearing to the Bureau within the statutory time limit and thus the parties violate the Trademark Law of the people's Republic of China.
In fact, the Bureau fully applied what stated in Article 19, article 32 and article 68 of the trademark law claiming that the trademark agency knows or should know that the client who applies for registration shall not damage the existing prior rights of others, nor shall it preempt the registration by improper means.
Also, a fine of more than 10,000 RMB but no more than 100.000 RMB has to be paid by trademark agency or the person in charge directly responsible and other persons directly responsible that commits one of the following acts:
(1) Fabricating or tampering with legal documents, seals or signatures, or using fabricated or tempered legal documents, seals or signatures during the handling of trademark-related matters;
(2) Soliciting trademark agency business by defaming other trademark agencies, or disrupting the order of the trademark agency market by other unjust means; or
(3) Violating the provisions of the third or fourth paragraph of Article 19 of this Law.
Eventually, Shijiazhuang Bureau decided that the trademark agency should be fined 50,000 RMB and Wang YY and the legal representative of Hebei Yi Ltd were each fined 5,000 RMB. A fine of 3% of the amount of the payment shall be imposed, and a people's court shall be applied for compulsory execution according to law.
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