China's top intellectual property regulator has pledged to further
strengthen crackdowns against improper trademark applications related to
the novel coronavirus after rejecting dozens of applications last week.
National Intellectual Property Administration said in a notice issued
on Friday that some agencies had been using epidemic catchwords,
including the names of hospitals and prominent doctors, in recent
trademark applications, and that such behavior should cease because it
goes against social morality and human conscience.
improper trademark registrations, the administration has been screening
applications from trademark agencies for the misleading use of
epidemic-related terms and has sent evidence to subordinate departments
to deal with them, the notice said.
While demanding that the
departments quickly launch inspections and urge problematic applicants
to correct their behavior, the administration said it would transfer
serious cases to enforcement authorities if applicants have violated the
The administration called for trademark associations, which
are made up of trademark agencies, to play a role in helping the
industry improve its self-discipline, mete out timely punishment to
members who have filed improper applications and publicly criticize
nonmembers in line with laws.
It added that it was establishing a
database to record the applications of trademark agencies, blacklist
improper ones and disclose them to the public.
A few agencies
have improperly applied for trademarks in the names of doctors, medical
experts and hospitals related to the epidemic.
On March 3, the
administration's Trademark Office rejected 63 epidemic-related
applications, including those using the names Huoshenshan and
Leishenshan－two hospitals that were built to offer more beds to people
infected with the virus in Wuhan, Hubei province, the epicenter of the
novel coronavirus－as well as that of Zhong Nanshan, a top Chinese
infectious disease specialist.
Three days later, another 37
applications involving the name of Li Wenliang, a doctor who died of the
disease in Wuhan, were also dismissed.
More than 1,500 epidemic-related trademark applications are now being scrutinized by the administration.
Fengxian, a Beijing lawyer specializing in handling IP cases, welcomed
the rejections and the administration's notice, saying the moves showed
the country's determination to fight improper trademark applications
during the outbreak.
"Exposing applicants with improper
applications is not only a response to public concerns, but also a
threat to those ready to apply for similar trademarks," Li said, while
adding that trademarks registered before the outbreak should be excluded
from the crackdown.
Zhang Jian, a judge from Beijing IP Court,
said that if an agency disagrees with the administration's rejection and
decides to initiate a lawsuit, "we'll conduct strict judicial reviews
of their applications under the Trademark Law and related judicial
He added that the names of public figures in
fields including politics, culture and religion were not allowed to be
used as trademarks, along with logos and other content that harmed
public order and interests.
Zhang said the court had established a quick channel to process such cases.