Johnson & Johnson Entangled in 120M Yuan Trademark Trouble

Despite the Supreme People's Court had sealed the over ten years legal battle between a Foshan-based company, the St-Flora (United) Co. Ltd and Johnson & Johnson company in October 2009, the case turned out to be just a beginning of a falling dominoes effect. St-Flora filed suit recently challenging Johnson & Johnson and Xi'an-Janssen Pharmaceutical Ltd (Janssen) and other four companies to Beijing Supreme People's Court for perjury-provoked property harm and demanding the defendants to pay 120 million yuan in damages. The case will be heard at the end of May this year.

It's been a battle for over ten years. Johnson & Johnson held that the No. 1214187 trademark of  "采乐CAILE" St-Flora obtained certified to be used on Class 3, the goods of cosmetic constituted an imitation of  "采樂" certified to be used on Class 5 which damaged to its lawful rights and interests.

After Johnson & Johnson sought rejection for the 3rd time in 2002, according to the amended trademark law and the evidence Johnson & Johnson submitted, TRAB revoked the trademark of  "采乐CAILE" in June 2005 on the ground that the trademark of "采樂" was considered as a well-known trademark. St-Flora then brought the case to the court, after lost in the first and second instance, the disgruntled St-Flora appealed to the Supreme People's Court and gained the support.

The Supreme People's Court held that the evidence Johnson & Johnson submitted at the third time failed to prove the cited trademark enjoyed high reputation and was familiar among Chinese customers before the trademark in question was registered. The court also upheld that there's great disparity between the two marks on materials, production and distribution channel and would not confuse the public.

The Supreme People's Court's decisions indicated that St-Flora hold the trademark legally throughout the whole fight. However, St-Flora had suffered severely from the impact of the wrong ruling.

St-Flora filed suit challenging Johnson & Johnson and other five companies to the court for infringement of its property rights ordering the defendants to pay 120 million yuan in damages, making an apology on a national newspaper and pay all legal cost.

The reporter noticed that the six defendants companies also including an intellectual property agency, an accounting firm and a market-research firm
The trial has already been delayed for two years. St-Flora explained that the subsidiary set up by Johnson & Johnson in China refused to sign upon court documents and Beijing Higher People's Court had to send the documents to the Johnson & Johnson's headquarters overseas.

Our reporter contacted with Johnson & Johnson China, who severed their ties with this case and directed us to Xi'an Janssen. We have yet heard a word from Janssen after contact. We will follow the developments of the case. 

(China IP News)