Well-known mark was not infringed by farm, court rules


On July 27 2006 the Hubei Province Xiangfan City Intermediate People's Court delivered its verdict on trademark infringement proceedings initiated by Hu Bei Fei Long Friction Gland Materials JV (Fei Long) against an individual. The court determined that Fei Long's trademark LONG ZHONG was a "well-known" trademark, but nevertheless rejected Fei Long's infringement claims.

In May 1996 Fei Long's LONG ZHONG device was registered as trademark in Class 12 of the Nice Classification. Since then, the branded product has been granted International Organization for Standardization quality accreditation as well as specific recognition on the domestic market. In 2005 Fei Long discovered an individual operating a farm under the name Long Zhong Farm. The individual used the name Long Zhong on the farm's sign, together with a Long Zhong device. Fei Long considered that the use constituted trademark infringement.

The court held that as Fei Long had registered the LONG ZHONG mark many years ago and the mark had an established reputation among consumers, LONG ZHONG should be regarded as a well-known trademark. However, the court went on to find that the two Long Zhong devices used on the farm's sign were obviously different from the registered trademark and that the relevant consumers were unlikely to be misled. Thus, no infringement had taken place.

As a result, the court determined that Fei Long's LONG ZHONG trademark was well known, but rejected Fei Long's infringement claims.

Jin Ling, Rouse & Co International, Beijing

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