Chinese Firm Loses Copyright Lawsuit Over Crayon Shin-chan

Yoshito Usui was a Japanese manga artist known for the popular manga Crayon Shin-chan. The lovely figure has become popular in China since publication debut in 1990s. A Shanghai company named Enjia, however, used the registered trademark of  蜡笔小新 (Chinese translation of Crayon Shin-chan) in its products.

Shanghai No.1 Intermediate Peopleh's Court recently ordered the Shanghai Company and other companies to stop infringing upon the copyright owned by Japan's Futabasha Publishers and to pay 300,000 yuan to Futabasha in damages.

Futabasha sues Enjia infringing copyright

The case started in 2004 when Futabasha found Enjia Company produced and distributed shoes printed with Crayon Shin-chan images and Crayon Shin-chan in traditional Chinese characters, and used the trademark on relevant website as well. Futabasha argued that Enjia's use of the trademark in question infringds its copyright, and inflicted irreparable losses. The publisher then brought a lawsuit against Enjia and other companies to the court and requested 1.06 million yuan in damages.

Futabasha presented evidence of its ownership. It signed an agreement with Yoshito Usui on April 1992 and achieved the exclusive copyright relating to Crayon Shin-chan  from the creator. Meanwhile, Futabasha has also been licensed to use the graphic trademark of 蠟筆小新 from Dongli Publisher.

Enjia defends the suit with trademark roots

Enjia argued that the case is not a copyright dispute, but a right conflict between trademark and copyright. Enjia held that it legally used the No.1033450 and No.1033444 trademark, figure, and words that had been approved for registration and it had verified the trademark's authenticity before used. Therefore it had acted with due diligence.

The above two trademarks was filed by Chengyi Company in 1996 and registered in June 1997 in Class 35, goods including clothes and shoes. In April 2004, the two trademarks were transferred to Shifu Company, which later authorized to Enjia Company with license expired on June 2007. In May 2010, the trademark in question was authorized to a party outside this case, Jiangsu Labixiaoxin Clothes Company. 

The court held that Enjia used the cartoon image of Crayon Shin-chan and relevant graphics in its products and applied the copied works to the public through publication, which constituted replication and distribution in copyright law meaning. In parallel, the company used the product in question in internet propaganda also constituted communicating behavior in copyright law meaning. So the court ruled that Enjia infringing the copyright of Futabasha. 

(China IP News)