• An Example of the Application of Article 10(8) of the China Trademark Law

PATH OF EXILE, an online game developed by the New Zealand-based Grinding Gear Games Limited is popular among Chinese gamers.

Recently, Beijing High People's Court made a final judgment that No.19407903 trademark "流放之路 (PATH OF EXILE in Chinese)" (trademark in dispute) filed by Grinding Gear, a goods in computer gaming software, does not have unhealthy influences, revoking the decision denying its registration by the Trademark Adjudication and Review Board (TRAB) and ordering the TRAB to make a de novo decision.

On March 25, 2016, a Chinese gaming company officially announced its distribution of "PATH OF EXILE". One day earlier, Grinding Gear filed a registration application for the trademark in dispute, requesting to be certified for use on Class 9 products such as computer gaming software. The Trademark Office (TMO) made a rejection decision based on the ground that the trademark in dispute is detrimental to socialist morals or customs or has other unhealthy influences. Days later on January 26, 2017, Grinding Gear lodged a review request to TRAB who would side with TMO on July 12, 2017.

The Disgruntled Grinding Gear then launched an administrative lawsuit to Beijing IP Court. Beijing IP Court held that the word "流放 (EXILE)" means banishing convicted prisoners to remote lands. It is easy to generate unhealthy influence on socialist morals or customs and public cultural orders when it is used on the products of computer gaming software. The court accordingly rejected the request of Grinding Gear. Then Grinding Gear then brought the case to Beijing High People's Court.

After hearing, Beijing High held that the word "流放 (EXILE)"  of the trademark in dispute means exiling the prisoners to remote lands, and "PATH OF EXILE" meant the process or route of exile. As a trademark, "流放之路 (PATH OF EXILE) is not detrimental to socialist morals or customs or has other unhealthy influences for the symbol itself or parts. In addition, the former SAPPRFT also approved its publication and operation after excluding its connection with any unhealthy contents and confirming its compliance with relevant laws. In this connection, Beijing High ruled in favor Grinding Gear and made the decisions that were listed in the opening section of this story.


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