China is simply a massive market growing at an astounding rate. The appetite for foreign brands and products is developing and evolving with every year.
For many companies China is still considered to be an untapped resource, offering huge potential sales and market share. However, these companies are also wary about doing business here for a number of very good reasons.
The possibility of trademark infringement is one very big reason.
Spot the Difference
Over the years, I’ve seen various trademark infringement cases in China. Some of these include:
- Joint Venture (JV) between a Chinese company and a ‘foreign company’ breaks down and the Chinese company walks away with all the trademarks. This was probably registered/owned by the Chinese JV party and only at the breakdown does it appear how important ownership of this is. Albeit an old story, Danone vs Wahaha stands as an amazing insight in to the complexities of trademark ownership and infringement in JV’s.
(See: Danone vs Wahaha)
- Trademark squatting – 3rd party companies/individuals that are keeping an eye out for products they think will enter the Chinese market and trademarking the names/possible names/future names/logos, etc and then using this to extort money.
(See: Reuters Article)
- Competing companies with similar logo colour schemes and sounding names, seemingly hijacking an established international brand to launch their own business.
(See: Starbucks vs XingBaKe)
- Traditional infringement claims – Companies identifying brands they feel infringe on their own trademark, but it is ruled this is not the case. China works on a first come, first served basis with regards to trademarks.
(See: Dell vs DeEr)
If you haven’t covered all your bases, you may find yourself in your own trademark infringement situation. The entity that owns the trademark can take you to court and attempt to stop you from selling that product/brand under that name in that location. If they are successful in their bid to stop you selling under that name, this will add weight to their case in other jurisdictions.
The following is a simplistic and very basic interpretation of what is going on with Apple’s trademark infringement case for the name “iPad” in China. The thoughts and views expressed here are my personal opinions.
What can we learn from the Apple vs Proview ongoing case?
Mmm... smells expensive.
In the early 2000’s Apple hired a company, Proview Taiwan, to purchase the trademarks for several product names in the Asia area, including in mainland China. I am told the agreement between Apple and Proview Taiwan for this work wasn’t well worded and contained some room for interpretation (some have called this sloppy legal work and poor due diligence).
Proview purchased the trademarks for iPad (amongst other names) on behalf of Apple, sold them to Apple and everyone moved on. Fast-forward a few years and pretty much out of the blue (although there has been rumours of this case for some time) an entity called Proview Shenzhen brings to light that they own the iPad trademark in mainland China and Apple is committing trademark infringement by selling iPad’s under that name. Proview Shenzhen takes Apple to court in Shenzhen and wins, paving the way for further trademark infringement cases against Apple all across the country.
Up and up and up!
Some of you may not have heard about the GRI from 1st March 2012 from almost all shipping carriers yet. But you will likely feel the pinch when you notice shipping prices for containers almost doubling after 1st of March.
Here is what is happening and what we’re being told:
Where & What?
The increases will be applied as follows:
Origin Range: From All Asian ports (including Japan, South East Asia, Colombo and Bangladesh)
Destination Range: To all Northern European ports (including UK & Ireland and the full range from Portugal to Russia) to West Med, Adriatic, East Med, Black Sea and North Africa.
Cargo: Dry cargo, OOG’s, Paying empties, Break-bulk and Reefer cargo.
While some carriers aren’t even offering an explanation for this price hike, others are using a variety of differing excuses. The most common the reasons being offered are: Read more…
Dave’s ayi turned up today with a brand new phone.
You most likely won’t find this on the shelves at your local Carphone Warehouse.
Apparently Nokia is being designed by Apple in California.
Enjoy the pics, comments welcome!