'Facebook' Beverages In China? Not Anymore
Facebook Inc (NASDAQ: FB) has scored a rare victory in a Chinese trademark dispute with a local Chinese company that registered and used the trademark “face book” to sell food and beverages. The Zhujiang Beverage Factory initially gained approval to continue to use the trademark back in 2014, but the Beijing Higher People’s Court has now revoked the approval and ruled that the company’s “face book” label is an obvious trademark infringement.
Zhujiang Beverage marketing manager Liu Hongqun argued that “face book,” or “lian shu,” refers to a type of intricately-designed mask that is common in traditional Chinese operas, but the court wasn’t buying it.
Surprisingly, under Chinese law, global companies must prove that their trademarks are popular in China itself before use of their trademark is considered illegal. While access to Facebook has been blocked in China since 2009, the court ruled that it remains a popular brand there.
Many mainland residents illegally gain access to banned sites like Facebook and Twitter Inc (NYSE: TWTR) via the use of virtual private networks (VPNs).
Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) wasn’t quite so lucky in another recent trademark lawsuit in China. The company lost its case against a Chinese leather-making company that uses the name “IPHONE” on its products.
Disclosure: The author holds no position in the stocks mentioned.
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