WOWO Encounters a Trademark Similarity Case

A Chinese local convenience store WOWO, which is located in Chengdu, Sichuan province, recently encounters a trademark similarity case. The three-color stripe WOWO trademark was challenged by Thailand IP Office on the ground of similarity with their national flag.

WOWO was revoked

The three-color stripe logo was first used in commercial activities in October 2005 and was registered as trademark in June 2010.

Two years later, on February 27, Thailand IP Office challenged the trademark and requested the Trademark Office (TMO) under the State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC) to revoke the registration of the WOWO trademark on ground of similarity with Thailand national flag.

One month after the complaint, TMO ruled out that the WOWO trademark should be revoked. TMO held that the color of the orange, blue and white is designed similarly with the Thailand national flag, which has violated the trademark law and should be rejected.

TMO's decision gained the favor of Trademark Review and Adjudication Board (TRAB), which is also under SAIC. Disgruntled WOWO brought the case to Beijing No.1 Intermediate People's Court. The court recently heard the case.

According to the founder of WOWO Tang Yaohua, the WOWO sounds like the rooster crow and represents his determination to offer 24-hour service to the customers. The orange, blue and white colors are very common and popular in convenience stores worldwide.

WOWO filed a lawsuit

According to Tang Yaohua, the registered trademark has not violated the trademark law and is not similar with Thailand national flag. "Firstly, there's no orange color in the Thailand national flag. Secondly, the sequence of the colors in our trademark and the flag are disparate. Thirdly, we have specific meanings in our trademark and are coincidence with the international trade practice," says Tang Yaohua.

According to WOWO's attorney, whether or not a trademark is similar with a national flag should be based on whether it will cause confusion among the public. "Chinese customers are not familiar with the Thailand national flag and the trademark in question will not cause confusion. Besides, according to Supreme People's Court's related regulations, it should be cautious to revoke registration of a trademark with a good reputation, a certain usage history, and the administrative order should also respect the market practice," says this attorney.

We will follow the development of the case.

(China IP News)