The Beijing High People's Court has issued a final decision in the 11-year trademark dispute between Sumitomo, a Japanese steel firm, and Jiangsu Rudong Zhu You Chemical Company, a Chinese firm.
Sumitomo applied for the cancellation of Rudong Zhu You’s trademark 住友 (Registration 1209774), which is pronounced 'zhu you', the Chinese pronunciation of ‘Sumitomo’. The Trademark Review and Adjudication Board rejected the application. The Beijing First Intermediate People's Court upheld the board’s decision and Sumitomo appealed to the Beijing High People's Court, which dismissed the appeal and upheld the decision of the first instance court.
The courts held that although the trademarks of both parties had been registered for goods in the same class, the products at issue:
- had different functions;
- targeted different customers; and
- were sold through different sales channels.
Further, the courts found that the evidence provided by Sumitomo demonstrated only that the SUMITOMO mark had a reputation in Japan. The courts concluded that Sumitomo had failed to prove that the mark was well known among the relevant Chinese public.
The courts thus refused to cancel Rudong Zhu You’s trademark.
Jin Ling, Rouse & Co International, Shanghai