Chinese equivalent of 'Rascal Rabbit' refused registration


On September 25 2006 the Beijing First Intermediate People's Court upheld a decision to refuse an application to register the words 'Liu Mang Tu' (meaning 'Rascal Rabbit' in Chinese) as a trademark. Rascal Rabbit is the Chinese name given to a thuggish cartoon rabbit known as Mashimaro in Korea.

The owner of the rights in the Mashimaro cartoon character, Korean company CLKO Entertainment Co Ltd (CLKO), applied to register the words 'Liu Mang Tu' for goods in Class 9 (electronic publications) and Class 29 (dairy products) of the Nice Classification. The Trademark Office rejected the application. CLKO then applied to the Trademark Review and Adjudication Board (TRAB), which upheld the Trademark Office's decision on the grounds that the use of the word 'rascal' meant that the mark fell within Article 10(8) of the Trademark Law, which provides that words or devices which are detrimental to social morals or customs, or have an otherwise unhealthy influence shall not be used as trademarks.

CLKO then initiated legal proceedings in the Beijing First Intermediate People's Court, claiming that it had used the mark LIU MANG TU in China for years and that, as a result, the mark had acquired an extensive reputation among Chinese consumers. It had used the mark on stationery, jewellery and furniture products widely sold on the Chinese market. In addition, the mark had been used extensively in advertisements in different types of media, including internet websites, magazines and newspapers. Further, many publishing houses published books featuring Liu Mang Tu. As a result, the mark LIU MANG TU was well known to Chinese consumers and had acquired a specific meaning.

The court considered that the words 'Liu Mang Tu' fell within the category of mark described in Article 10(8). The mark was detrimental to social morals, particularly those of young people, and constituted an "unhealthy influence". It therefore upheld the TRAB's decision and rejected CLKO's claim.

Jin Ling, Rouse & Co International, Beijing

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