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China rejects over 400 malicious registrations of Olympics-related trademarks

02 March 2022

China rejects over 400 malicious registrations of Olympics-related trademarks

The Beijing Winter Olympics provided not only a stage for athletes around the world to shine, but also a tempting opportunity for trademark perpetrators to exploit the fame of the memorable figures of the games. The Chinese National Intellectual Property Administration (CNIPA) announced on February 14 that it rejected 429 applications for trademarks that involved Olympics-related names, such as the official mascot Bing Dwen Dwen and freestyle skiing gold medallist Eileen Gu. It also invalidated 43 registered trademarks of similar nature.

Among the 429 rejected trademark applications, 133 are related to Bing Dwen Dwen, 62 are related to its Winter Paralympics counterpart Shuey Rhon Rhon, and 13 are hybrid names between the two. The highly sought-after mascot Bing Dwen Dwen is a panda in a suit of ice, with the character “Bing” meaning ice in Chinese. Shuey Rhon Rhon, which is the Paralympics mascot, is an anthropomorphic Chinese lantern, with the character “Shuey” meaning snow in Chinese.

Of the rejected trademarks, 31 are derived from the name of American-born freestyle skier Eileen Gu, who competed for China and won two gold medals and a silver medal in the 2022 Winter Olympics. Although the announcement made by CNIPA focuses on the 2022 Winter Games, the list of rejected trademark applications consists of a considerable number of names from the previous Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics as well, including 183 trademarks based on the name and nickname of diver Quan Hongchan, who won the gold medal in the individual 10-metre platform event with a record-breaking score at the age of 14.

Bruce Fu, an attorney at law from GoldenGate Lawyers in Beijing, explained that CNIPA ex officio rejected or invalidated these trademarks in accordance with Article 10.1.8 of the Trademark Law of China, which stipulates that use or registration of a trademark with adverse effect is prohibited. “The adverse effect refers to the negative effect on social public interests, or public order and good custom,” he said. “CNIPA holds that those trademarks injure public interests and order. Under the trademark law, it is the most severe sanction on malicious trademark applications or registrations.”

In addition, Fu said that CNIPA also has the power to ex officio reject or invalidate trademark applications or registrations in accordance with the following Articles of the Trademark Law:

1) Article 4, against the trademarks not for the purpose of use;

2) Article 10.1.7, against the trademarks with deceiving features, such as a trademark consisting of the name of celebrity in certain field which likely incur misleads on the quality or other features of products;

3) Article 44.1, against the conducts to apply for registration of many trademarks of other parties, or to apply for registration of many trademarks which injure other parties’ prior rights, which is seen as injuring the trademark registration order, public interests, or unfairly occupying the public resources, or obtaining unjustifiable interests.

Apart from rejections and invalidations ex officio, if athletes would like to secure their IP rights, they can also actively apply to CNIPA to reject or invalidate malicious trademarks, as Fu suggested. “They attack malicious trademarks based on their prior rights, including name rights, trademark rights, copyrights, design patent rights, etc.”

As for the Olympic committee, their IP rights are further protected by the regulations of China. “The Olympic committee may protect its identifiers, including Olympic logos, names, mascots, etc., pursuant to Regulations on the Protection of Olympic Symbols of China,” Fu said. “Under the Regulations, the competent authorities may enforce against the infringement of Olympic identifiers ex officio or as per the application of the Olympic committee.” In the announcement made on February 14, CNIPA also cited these regulations.


Ivy Choi

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