Although English-language ability is rapidly improving in China, many people – including Chinese trademark officials – rely on Chinese definitions of English words. In most cases this is not a problem, but surprisingly often the Chinese version of the English word does not actually mean what the English word really means.
To make matter worse, many online Chinese dictionaries copy from each other, so quickly one inaccurate translation is widely duplicated. This can present a significant problem for trademark owners who attempt to register an English-language trademark in China. We briefly discuss two administrative lawsuits that overcame an adverse official refusal and a review of official refusal decisions because we were able to convince Chinese dictionaries to change the English definitions of our client’s trademarks.
Article 11 of China’s Trademark Law states: “The following signs shall not be registered as trademarks: (1) Those consisting only of generic names, devices or model numbers of the goods concerned; (2) Those consisting only of a direct representation of the quality, primary raw materials, functions, intended purposes, weight, quantity or other characteristics of the goods concerned”.
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Steven Andrews is a foreign counsel and client manager, and Nancy Qu is a lawyer and client manager at Chang Tsi & Partners
7/F and 8/F, Tower A, Hundred Island Park
Bei Zhan Bei Jie Street, Xicheng District
Beijing 100044, China
电话 Tel: +86 10 8836 9999
传真 Fax: +86 10 8836 9996