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Victory for Facebook in China Trademark Dispute

Written by Fozia Cheychi on 10 May 2016

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Zhongstan based Zhujiang Beverage, which sells porridge and milk based drinks, submitted an application in 2011 for the registration of its trade mark ‘face book’, for use in relation to a refreshing beverage. Despite objections from social media giant- Facebook, the application gained approval to use it in 2014 from the country’s trademark authority- the Trademark Review and Adjudication Board.

Facebook initiated trade mark Infringement Company against Zhujiang Beverages. Facebook won the original lawsuit and officials were ordered to revoke its decision and reconsider the issue, after the court found Zhujiang had “violated moral principles with obvious intention to duplicate and copy from another high-profile trademark; Zhujiang appealed this decision. Beijing Higher People’s Court has upheld the original ruling.

The marketing manager of Zhujiang Beverage- Liu Hongquon argued that although Facebook is a known brand around the world, it is blocked in China- and has been since 2009. He added “How many Chinese customers get access to or sign up for Facebook in mainland China?, where can we get access to this product in China?”.

The court has said that Zhujiang should not have been allowed to register the contentious trade mark. The court statement continued “It clearly goes against the intrinsic value of trademarks and disturbs the normal trademark, registration order...if the applicant applies to register a large number of others’ well-known trademarks, intending to seek business benefits by hoarding and transferring them. Therefore such acts must be stopped.”

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