In October 2015, the Chinese State Administration for Industry and Commerce (AIC) announced a special one-year nationwide campaign to protect the Disney trademarks. The campaign aims at attacking infringements of Disney trademarks, protecting the rights of consumers, creating a fair market and maintaining China’s international image of IPR protection. Routine monitoring (including online monitoring) will be strengthened. AICs and market supervisory bureau all over the country will strive to stop the infringements and training will be enhanced.
The commencement of the campaign was soon followed by the Shanghai AIC’s administrative action against a hotel chain called Vienna. Five hotels of this chain used the Chinese version of “Disney” in their names (such as using “Disney Store” after the name of the hotel) and the related signs were used on the signboards, the websites and the electronic notice board in the lobby etc. The hotel chain was found to have infringed Disney’s trademarks and was fined RMB100,000.
Following this fairly publicized action by Shanghai AIC, the other campaign efforts recently reported by SAIC include the following:
- the Haidian branch of the Beijing AIC has implemented specific measures for the campaign, namely strengthening the inspection on the use of Disney’s registered marks and the inspection on traders dealing with clothing, electronic products, toys, bags and stationery etc. in physical markets, preventing and punishing infringements of Disney’s registered marks and making use of a specific report hotline for faster investigation and action.
- after receiving a report from the public, the market supervisory bureau of Yuhang District of Hangzhou City seized a large batch of children’s clothing featuring classic Disney figures. The suspected culprit sold this kind of Disney clothing mainly via electronic trading platform.
- an English education and training institute in ZhuZhou City has been found to have infringed Disney’s trademarks by using the marks at the premises and in the teaching materials. An AIC office in ZhuZhou City has ordered the institute to immediately stop the infringement and destroy all infringing products and trademarks.
The campaign commenced before the opening of the Shanghai Disneyland, which is said to take place in the spring of 2016. This campaign which targets at a specific brand is unprecedented. Some commented that the campaign is necessary because the Shanghai government has commercial interests in the business of the theme park, and people inevitably ask “how about the other brands?”. Whatever the motives behind the campaign, the efforts should be seen as positive signs. Hopefully, awareness of the importance of IPR protection will be enhanced, which is crucial for an even better IP environment for all foreign businesses in China.
Rhonda Tin, Counsel