Thursday, March 10, 2011

Chinese Car Wars

Carmaker Land Rover (which India's Tata acquired from Ford) is suing Chinese carmaker Geely of Hangzhou (which acquired Volvo from Ford) for registering its Chinese characters "Lu Hu" in China. Land Rover says it used the characters for its "Land Rover" brand since the early 1990s. In 1999 Geely registered the "Lu Hu" trademark knowing that Land Rover was using it. Having lost at TRAB the case is now being appealed to the Beijing No 1 Intermediate court.

Meanwhile BMW (which sold Land Rover to Ford) has its own (dis)similar problems. Wenzhou Baoma Electric sought to register BMW's Chinese characters in its class 9 mark on electrical switches. After failing to prove that the marks could be confused by consumers, given the different goods, BMW has also appealed from TRAB to the Beijing No 1 Intermediate court.

The challenges illustrated by these cases include the difficulties of planning Chinese character brands. Secondly the slow pace of TRAB cases can leave disputes unresolved for many years. As in BMW's case the ongoing problem of proving reputation/fame challenges many IP holders, and this is of course even harder across classes.

Guest post by IP Komodo Dragon

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