Administrative Dispute over the Invalidation of the Trademark of "牛班培艺"
Heard by: Beijing Intellectual Property Court
Outcome of Trial: Uphold the ruling of invalidation
Shanghai Newban Cultural Development Co., Ltd., the third party in this case (invalidation petitioner), is a company engaged in music teaching and training founded by Mr. Yanbin Hu, a famous musician. Shenzhen Niuban Art Training Co., Ltd., the plaintiff, in this case, had applied for the registration of the No. 17196629 trademarks "牛班培艺" on June 26, 2015, which was approved for use in services such as "training; school (education)". Shanghai Newban entrusted Sanyou to file an invalidation request for the disputed trademark. After the trial, the CNIPA determined that the evidence submitted by Shanghai Newban could prove that "牛班" had already had a certain influence through its use and publicity as an online music education platform. The disputed trademark completely contained "牛班", and the designated use of the same and similar services might cause misunderstanding among the public that the services originated from the same subject or have specific ties with them, thereby damaging the rights and interests of the third party. The registration of the disputed trademark in the service of "training; school (education); arranging and organizing training; organizing performances (performance)" constituted the situation in Article 32 of the Trademark Law, where" by improper means, preemptively registering the trademarks that others have already used and also have a certain influence", the disputed trademark was declared invalid on this part of the service.
Shenzhen Niuban Company refused to accept the ruling of invalidation and filed a lawsuit. After the trial, the court determined that the media coverages and service contracts submitted by the third party were sufficient to prove that the third party had already used "牛班" on the online music education platform and had a certain degree of popularity and influence. The distinctively identifying text of the trademark "牛班培艺" and "牛班" constituted a similar composition. The disputed trademark was approved of the use in service "training; school (education); arranging and organizing training; organizing performance (performance)", which was similar to that of the third party. The registration of the disputed trademark on this part of the service constituted the situation stipulated in Article 32 of the Trademark Law. In the case where the disputed trademark was highly similar to the trademark previously used by the third party and the service category was the same, the evidence submitted by the plaintiff was not sufficient to prove that there was a clear and effective market differentiation between disputed trademark and the trademark previously used by the third party and avoided the possibility of consumer confusion. The plaintiff's claims were then rejected.
This case involves the determination of "by improper means, preemptively registering a trademark that was previously used by others and has a certain influence" in Article 32 of the Trademark Law. The third party in this case submitted relevant mainstream media coverage and the views of training courses of the third party on main video websites, etc., to prove that the trademarks previously used have already had a certain degree of popularity and influence before the application of disputed trademark. Although the plaintiff, in this case, claims that it is located in a different region from the third party, and its art training service is slightly different from the third party's online music education service; what's more, a stable market order has been formed after the use. However, considering the distinctively identifying part of the disputed trademark is highly similar to the trademark previously used by third parties and has a certain influence, as well as the fact that they are both used for training services, the court finally determined that the registration of the disputed trademark constituted the situation stipulated in Article 32 of the Trademark Law. For cases similar to the preemptive registration of a trademark previously used by others by improper means, the prior owner can collect evidence from relevant reports by the mainstream media on the internet to prove that the squatter knows or should have known the fact that they are using the trademark which has been previously used and has a certain influence.
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