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Facebook Wins a Trademark Batt...

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Facebook Wins a Trademark Battle in China

The court battles on American trademarks in China keep coming. But this time, a U.S. company has walked away with a win.

Late last month, the Beijing Higher People’s Court ruled in favor of U.S. social media giant Facebook in a trademark case against a Chinese beverage company that owned the trademark “face book.”

Zhongshan-based Zhujiang Beverage, which sells products like milk-flavored drinks and porridge, said it registered its trademark, “face book,” or 脸书, (lian shu) in 2011. The company faced objections from Facebook, but gained approval from the Trademark Review and Adjudication Board, the country’s trademark authority, in 2014 to use it.

Lian shu is something very Chinese. We have lian shu in traditional operas.

In a verdict posted on its verified Weibo account, the Beijing court said that the trademark authority’s approval had been revoked and that it is now up to the regulator to revisit its decision. While the verdict was issued last month, it has gotten wider attention in recent days on Chinese social media.

“Lian shu is something very Chinese,” said Liu Hongqun, marketing manager of Zhujiang Beverage. “We have lian shu in traditional operas,” he added, referring to the intricate masks — called “face books” in China — that are used to indicate a historical character in traditional Chinese opera, especially Peking opera.

Facebook naturally wasn’t happy and went back and forth with the trademark authority before eventually bringing the matter to the Beijing court. Facebook won the original lawsuit; Zhujiang then appealed, and, as of the most recent ruling, lost again.

Facebook declined to comment on the case.

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About Post Author

Mark Smith - Member/Partner

Mr. Smith is the founding member of SBL and started the practice in 1995. He brings to SBL his diverse intellectual property, business law, engineering, aerospace and private practice experience. He concentrates his practice in the areas of high technology law including the acquisition, auditing, licensing and enforcement of intellectual property rights, with particular emphasis on patent, trademark, and trade secret matters; business strategies; and the formation of high technology ventures. Mr. Smith has experience in civil litigation in both state and federal courts, including patent, trade secret and unfair competition litigation as well as federal litigation involving “cutting-edge” issues involving trademark use and the Internet . He also has experience in business litigation, mergers and acquisitions, including corporate acquisitions, corporate compliance matters, and general corporate law matters.

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