Source: China Daily
China's top intellectual property regulator has pledged to further strengthen crackdowns against improper trademark applications related to the novel coronavirus after rejecting dozens of applications last week.
The National Intellectual Property Administration said in a notice issued on Friday that some agencies had been using epidemic catchwords, including the names of hospitals and prominent doctors, in recent trademark applications, and that such behavior should cease because it goes against social morality and human conscience.
To fight improper trademark registrations, the administration has been screening applications from trademark agencies for the misleading use of epidemic-related terms and has sent evidence to subordinate departments to deal with them, the notice said.
While demanding that the departments quickly launch inspections and urge problematic applicants to correct their behavior, the administration said it would transfer serious cases to enforcement authorities if applicants have violated the law.
The administration called for trademark associations, which are made up of trademark agencies, to play a role in helping the industry improve its self-discipline, mete out timely punishment to members who have filed improper applications and publicly criticize nonmembers in line with laws.
It added that it was establishing a database to record the applications of trademark agencies, blacklist improper ones and disclose them to the public.
A few agencies have improperly applied for trademarks in the names of doctors, medical experts and hospitals related to the epidemic.
On March 3, the administration's Trademark Office rejected 63 epidemic-related applications, including those using the names Huoshenshan and Leishenshan－two hospitals that were built to offer more beds to people infected with the virus in Wuhan, Hubei province, the epicenter of the novel coronavirus－as well as that of Zhong Nanshan, a top Chinese infectious disease specialist.
Three days later, another 37 applications involving the name of Li Wenliang, a doctor who died of the disease in Wuhan, were also dismissed.
More than 1,500 epidemic-related trademark applications are now being scrutinized by the administration.
Li Fengxian, a Beijing lawyer specializing in handling IP cases, welcomed the rejections and the administration's notice, saying the moves showed the country's determination to fight improper trademark applications during the outbreak.
"Exposing applicants with improper applications is not only a response to public concerns, but also a threat to those ready to apply for similar trademarks," Li said, while adding that trademarks registered before the outbreak should be excluded from the crackdown.
Zhang Jian, a judge from Beijing IP Court, said that if an agency disagrees with the administration's rejection and decides to initiate a lawsuit, "we'll conduct strict judicial reviews of their applications under the Trademark Law and related judicial interpretations."
He added that the names of public figures in fields including politics, culture and religion were not allowed to be used as trademarks, along with logos and other content that harmed public order and interests.
Zhang said the court had established a quick channel to process such cases.2020-03-13