Premier League look-alike logo registration not fair play, court rules


The Beijing First Intermediate People's Court has endorsed the strength of the English Premier League's brand in China by dismissing a Chinese company's claim that it had rights in a mark similar to the Premier League's 'crowned lion' trademark (December 27 2006).

In 1999 Xiangshi Celebration Service Company registered a mark similar to the Premier League's crowned lion device, bar the absence in the Xiangshi mark of a football under the crowned lion's right paw. The Football Association entered the Chinese market by setting up a company in 2000. One of its priorities was to consolidate its brand in China and it duly attempted to register the Premier League's 'crowned lion' mark. However, the application came up against Xiangshi's earlier lion mark. The Trademark Review and Appraisal Board (TRAB) initially rejected the Premier League's application because of its similarities with Xiangshi's mark. Nonetheless, when the Premier League filed an appeal against the decision in January 2001 on the grounds that Xiangshi's lion was an imitation of the Premier League's lion, the TRAB upheld the appeal and revoked Xiangshi's trademark in October 2005.

Xiangshi then filed an appeal with the Beijing First Intermediate People's Court in January 2006. The court has now dismissed that claim, maintaining that the Premier League had exclusive use of its 'crowned lion' mark in China.

Mike Morgan, Hammonds, London

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