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China IP magaziine

LIANJIA TRADEMARK INFRINGEMENT AND UNFAIR COMPETITION

发布时间:2018-05-22

Trial Docket: (2017) Jin 02 MinChu No. 26
City of Tianjin
[Headnotes]
The Supreme People's Court Interpretation on Certain Issues On Application of Law in Civil Cases of Unfair Competition provides, in Article 6, "Corporate names, and corporate names of foreign countries (regions) conducting business in China, when recorded with the competent authorities, shall be recognized as the ‘corporate names' as defined under Article 5(3) of the Anti- Unfair Competition Law." Business names used in corporate names, if well known in the market, or to the relevant public, may be recognized as the ‘corporate names' as defined under Article 5(3) of the Anti-Unfair Competition Law." Corporate names by law are protected. A corporate name comprises four parts, i.e., administrative region, business name, business character, and corporate style. Although corporate names have regional indications when recorded, their protection is not necessarily restricted the place of recordal. If they become known beyond their geographic locations, they may as well be protected under the Anti- Unfair Competition Law to the geographic extent they are known. If another, with a purpose to take off on their reputation, use a name identical with or similar to the corporate name (or business name) so as to cause confusion in the marketplace, it must be stopped.
[Synopsis]
Plaintiff: Beijing Home-Link Real Estate Agency Defendant: Tianjin New Seaboard Home-Link Real Estate Agency Plaintiff Beijing Home-Link Real Estate Agency ("Beijing Home-Link") was formed on September 30, 2001, originally under a corporate name of Beijing Home-Link Baoye Real Estate Agency, conducting business in Internet information services and real estate agency business, and being the owner of the trademarks   with words and design, and. In 2012, 2013 and 2014 it invested 14, 50, 74 millions respectively in promotional advertisement. Defendant Tianjin New Seaboard Home-Link Real Estate Agency ("Tianjin Home-Link") has a business of second-hand real estate transactions, leasing, and real estate information consultation. Defendant used its store sign identical with plaintiff's "LIANJIA." Plaintiff sued for injunction and damages.
The court found that corporate names, though having regional indications when recorded, their protection is not necessarily restricted the place of recordal. If they become known beyond their geographic locations, they may as well be protected under the Anti-Unfair Competition Law to the geographic extent they are known. If another, with a purpose to take off on their reputation, use a name identical with or similar to the corporate name (or business name) so as to cause confusion in the marketplace, it must be stopped. Therefore the court decided that Tianjin Home-Link be enjoined from using "LIANJIA" ("Home- Link" in Chinese) as business indicia and pay damages and reasonable litigation cost in the amount of 100 thousand yuan.
[Judge's Comment]
Through analyzing whether defendant has the right to use "LIANJIA" ("Home- Link in Chinese") as corporate name and business indicia, this case establishes a fundamental rule for corporate name protection beyond its original locale, i.e., its protection follows its reputation beyond the geographic place of recordal under the Anti-Unfair Competition Law of People's Republic of China. The court in this case, on the basis of clear facts of infringement and verification of plaintiff's corporate names and registered trademarks, found that plaintiff's business name "LIANJIA" ("Home-Link") protectible in this City, and defendant is liable for unfair competition and trademark infringement. The ruling in this case provides ample protection for well known Chinese real estate agency's lawful interest, and helps to clean up the real estate market.