Protection of Time-honored Brands under Modern IP System

By Zhou Yi, China IP,[Comprehensive Reports]

After several years of development, many time-honored brands have secured their own trademark registrations, and some have obtained well-known status for their marks. However, there are still many people harboring desires for the time-honored brands. Overseas trademark squatting is one example. By overseas squatting, the squatters grab the Chinese market and authorize Chinese enterprises to produce under the name of “foreign brands.”
  “Surely, this is not a problem exclusive to the time-honored brand names. Many large enterprises are facing the same trouble. The particularity is that the time-honored brands are usually of limited sizes and face more challenges in protecting their rights than do larger businesses. Moreover, these domestically known brands, mostly unregistered, are difficult to protect except under international treaties for well-known marks, which these time-honored brands are not,” said Mr. Shang. “The odds of Wangzhihe’s winning in the trademark lawsuit case are one in a thousand.”
  Besides overseas squatting, domestic infringements also emerge endlessly. Some use time-honored brands as their company names; some register trademarks similar to the time-honored brands; and some simply call themselves the time-honored brands.
  Despite the continuous efforts in confronting infringements, most time-honored enterprises are too limited in scale and too weak in brand protection, which also dictates their limited activities in IP protection.
  “All of the time-honored brands share two common characteristics. Firstly, they are limited in scale. This is because they usually engage in miscellaneous daily goods, mostly food and clothing. Secondly, they are usually limited to a certain region,” Mr. Shang said.
  The small scale means they cannot afford to safeguard their rights. It seems that until now, none of the time-honored brands have established an IP protection department. The geographic scale limits their interest in seeking protection outside their home marketing range.
  “But some time-honored brands, like Ruifuxiang (silk) and Zhangyiyuan (tea), think highly of IP protection.  We provide them almost the same services we do for other large enterprises: establishing IP strategies, conducting trademark monitoring and defensive registrations, and cracking down on counterfeiting offenses. We have evolved from solving the problem after it occurs to giving overall considerations and taking preventative precautions at present; we have greatly changed our way of working and have achieved great progress,” said Mr. Shang.

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