Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Xingbake wakes up and smells the coffee

Starbucks Corp. comes out victorious in the trademark related law suit against Shanghai Xingbake Cafe that started December 2004 and ended on the last day of 2005. Shanghai No. 2 Intermediate People's Court ruled that Xingbake has conducted illegal competition by using the name Xingbake 星巴克,the name Starbucks is using in China. Xing means star in Mandarin and the characters ba and ke sound together a bit like bucks.

Shanghai Xingbake Cafe has to pay 500,000 yuan (US$61,728) to Starbucks Corporation and a make a public apology in the Xinmin Evening News.

"According to the judges it is the first verdict that local courts have made on infringement of a famous international trademark since the revised Trademark Law was enacted on December 1, 2001." (revised on October 27th 2001)

The Amended Law explicitly provides protection for foreign famous marks. A mark copying, imitating or translating an unregistered foreign famous mark on identical or similar goods or services with likelihood to cause confusion will not be granted registration or will be prohibited from being used. Source: Wang & Wang. More here.

Xingbake used the name of Xingbake earlier than the Chinese trademark of Starbucks was registered. If this were the case, before December 1, 2001, the revised Trademark law is working retroactively. If the name was registered after December 1, 2001, it should not have been granted refistration.

"The Nanjing Road branch of Xingbake also used a green logo similar to that of Starbucks on its menus, receipts and name cards. It has a picture of a coffee cup in the circle, instead of a mermaid, however. "This will mislead consumers to think Xingbake is related to Starbucks and harm the reputation of the Starbucks trademark," said Fu Qiangguo, the attorney for Starbucks ."

Read more here.

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