Beijing High Supports American Firm's Prior Copyright Claim
Surrounding the No. 13511300 "awc" trademark (trademark in dispute), Beijing High People's Court made a final judgment recently. The trademark in dispute was filed for registration by Shanghai Youbo Environmental Technology Company on November 8, 2013, and would be approved to be used on Class 1 goods including water purifying chemicals in January 2015.
In November 2015, American Water Chemicals Inc. or AWC in the abbreviated form filed an invalidation request to the former Trademark Review and Adjudication Board (TRAB), asserting that the word "awc" belongs to the prior copyrighted art work of AWC. The trademark in dispute was the imitation of its work, damaging the company's prior copyright. The word "awc" was used previously by AWC and was famous and influential as trademark and trade name. The registration of the trademark in dispute constituted the act of squatting wellknown trademark and trade name in bad faith.
Youbo argued that the evidence AWC provided failed to prove that it owned the prior copyright of "awc". AWC did not submitted evidence to prove its trademark "awc" was previously used and well-known and it cannot prove Youbo registered the trademark in dispute in bad faith.
The former TRAB held that the evidence cannot prove "awc" as trademark and trade name has been used on the goods similar with which the trademark in dispute was approved tobe used on and enjoyed high reputation before the date of the registration of the trademark in dispute. The word "awc" was only a common combination of English letters and was not unique, belonging hardly to the work protected by China's Copyright Law. So the former TRAB made a decision to uphold the trademark in dispute in April 2016.
The disgruntled AWC then brought the case to Beijing IP Court.
Beijing IP Court held that the word "awc" was unique and was a copyrighted work. The registration of the trademark in dispute damaged the prior copyright of AWC. The relevant evidence can neither prove the trademark in dispute was identical or similar with AWC's trade name nor prove the word "awc" had been used by AWC as its trade name in China and was wellknown when used on the goods which the trademark in dispute was approved to be used on before the registration of the trademark in dispute. Therefore, the Court made its first- instance judgment, revoking the former TRAB's decision.
China National Intellectual Property Administration (CNIPA), which inherited the former TRAB's functions, then appealed to Beijing High People's Court, claiming that "awc" does not belong to the work protected by China copyright law and the trademark in dispute does not damage the prior copyright of AWC.
Bejing High People's Court held that AWC's trademark "awc" was unique and was a copyrighted work. The registration of the trademark in dispute damaged AWC's prior copyright. In the connection, the Court declined the request of CNIPA and upheld the trial Court judgment.