United States sportswear manufacturer Champion has lost its trademark scrap with Chinese-based startup Champion-Life Technology.
The Trademark Office recently ruled in favor of Champion-Life Technology, a home wares manufacturer from Xiamen, Fujian province, for the use of its "Champion life" trademark which appears on a range of backpacks, wallets and handbags.
Champion-Life Technology filed for protection of its trademark in 2016. The US company's parent HanesBrands Inc raised an objection against the application in July 2017, claiming the Xiamen company was plagiarizing and squatting on its trademark.
According to the administrative ruling, the two trademarks in dispute have clear differences in terms of composition, pronunciation, meaning and visual effect, and thus would not lead to consumer confusion.
The verdict also added that HBI could appeal the decision to the Trademark Review and Adjudication Board to invalidate it.
Champion-Life Technology was established in 2015 and specializes in designing and manufacturing environmentally friendly household products, such as lunch boxes, eye-protection lamps and recyclable paper products.
As an export-oriented company, its products are mainly available in North America through major retailers and specialty stores.
Lin Yunsheng, general manager of Champion-Life, said they decided on "Champion life" as a trademark because champion sounds like the Chinese character of "chuangpin", which is part of the company name and means innovative goods.
Lin said that the company did not apply for the registration of the trademark in all categories because of the business's relatively small scale at the time of its establishment.
"We plan to gradually increase the scope of the registration with the expansion of the company," he added.
After being informed of the objection from the US brand, Lin said his company decided to actively respond to the trademark dispute.
"This is after all our own brand of hard work and nurturing and we're not just riding on the coattails of a well-known brand," Lin said.
Yang Gaoqiang, senior manager of ChampionLife Technology's trademark agency, said the key to the company's victory was to prove the trademark was actually used and not just squatting.
The evidence therefore could not be just photos of sales and promotion material of the related goods, but also had to include contracts and receipts, he said.
Lin said the company attaches great importance to intellectual property rights protection and will increase its investment in patents and industrial designs.
He also called on Chinese companies that conduct business internationally to plan their IP in the early stages to ensure competitiveness in related markets.
By Hao Nan
Source: China Daily 04/19/2018 page17