In the wake of several highly publicized cases, China has vowed crackdown on trademark infringement. The country has long been criticized on the world stage for failing to take a tougher stand on intellectual property issues.
In response to this criticism, China recently announced that its will amend its trademark laws to provide greater protection to international companies seeking to protect their brands. Under the proposed changes, trademark owners will have the right to prohibit others from registering their trademarks or from using similar ones, even if such trademarks are not yet registered. Under current law, the first to register often owns the mark even against the legitimate U.S. trademark owner who was first to use the mark in that country.
“The draft is intended to curb the malicious registration of trademarks,” the official Xinhua news agency reported.
The proposed changes are good news for U.S. companies who often have difficulty protecting their brands in China. As we previously discussed on this IP Law Blog, Apple endured a protracted legal battle over the use of its iPad trademark. Apple ultimately settled the lawsuit for $60 million. Basketball star Michael Jordan also filed a lawsuit against Chinese sportswear company for using his Chinese name without authorization.
The Chinese legislature is expected to consider the proposed trademark law changes in the next few weeks. As highlighted here, it can be more difficult to protect trademarks and other IP rights overseas.