News and Cases from China: August 2018

台灯设计虽迷你 不独特不构成专利

近日,北京知产法院审理了原告苏园与被告专利复审委员会、第三人中山市唯科唯乐公司、屈秀保外观设计专利权无效行政纠纷一案。该案涉及2013年10月23日授权公告的201330158399.2号外观设计专利。该外观设计的产品名称为“LED台灯(时尚风迷你型)”,专利权人为苏园。

法院经审理认为:对于台灯类产品而言,在满足其功能要求的前提下,其灯头、灯杆和灯座的形状可以有较多变化,因此设计空间较大,但将对比设计1、对比设计2的相关设计特征经过细微变化组合后即可形成本专利的外观设计,未产生独特的视觉效果。因此,本专利与对比设计1和对比设计2所示设计特征的组合相比不具有明显区别,不符合专利法第二十三条第二款的规定。综上,北京知识产权法院作出一审判决:驳回原告苏园的诉讼请求。双方当事人均未提起上诉,现该判决已生效。

Court upholds Board’s rejection of Design Patent for a Desk Lamp

Recently, the Beijing Intellectual Property Court heard an appeal from a decision of the Patent Reexamination Board in relation to design patent 201330158399.2, issued on 23 October 2013, for an ‘LED table lamp (fashion style mini type)’ in the name of Su Yuan.

The Court held that desk lamp products can qualify for design patent protection if the shape is both novel and not determined solely by functional requirements. In this case, it found that Su Yuan’s design combined the features of two previous designs, Comparative Designs 1 and 2, but that the combination had not resulted in any visual effect: there was no significant difference between Su Yuan’s design and the Comparative Designs. Not having any unique visual features, the design did not comply with Article 23 (2) 2 of the Patent Law. The Plaintiff’s appeal was dismissed.  Neither party has appealed the Court’s decision.

 

三大通信运营商因“流量不限量”虚假广告领罚单

8月6日,湖南张家界市工商行政管理局武陵源分局针对当地电信、移动、联通三大通信运营商发布“流量不限量”虚假广告,分别向其下达行政处罚决定书。该工商部门针对运营商的虚假广告进行行政处罚,在全国尚属首例。

经武陵源工商局查明,自2018年1月1日至2018年3月31日止,武陵源移动共办理业务295户, 292户在入网登记时都采用科技手段(电脑程序)进行了流量限制。其具体操作方法是:当用户当月手机上网流量达到40GB后实行达量降速,即从100Mbps降至1Mbps以下;当月使用流量达到100GB以后将用户停止当月流量使用功能,次月自动恢复。武陵源工商局认为移动公司的行为实质上是对用户每个月的流量使用作了一个最高的限制,这与当事人允诺的“流量不限量”明显不符。

此外,移动公司的广告宣传对用户的购买行为有实质性的影响。在内容上,该广告只是陈述了部分事实,容易让人引发错误的联想;在效果上,移动公司用相对小得多的字体标注降速等附加条件,导致用户误以为流量真的没有限制,从而作出不符合真实意愿的购买选择。其行为违反了《中华人民共和国广告法》第二十八条第(二)项之规定,构成发布虚假广告行为。

武陵源工商局日前向武陵源移动作出处罚决定:责令武陵源移动立即改正违法行为;对发布虚假广告行为处罚款人民币31186.25元。此外,中国电信股份有限公司张家界武陵源分公司和中国联合网络通信有限公司武陵源分公司也因发布“流量不限量”虚假广告分别领到32500元和31657.05元的罚单。

China’s Top Three Telecom Operators Fined for Deceptive Ads

On 6 August, the Zhangjiajie Administration Bureau for Industry and Commerce Wulingyuan Branch issued administrative penalty decisions against three major Chinese telecom operators for false advertisements relating to ‘Unlimited data’:  China Telecom, China Mobile and China Unicom. This is the first time administrative penalties have been imposed on telecom operators for false advertisements.

According to the Wulingyuan Branch, from 1 January 2018 to 31 March 2018, China Mobile handled new registrations for 295 households in Wulingyuan;  in relation to 292 of those households it used technology to restrict data. The specific technical method is as follows: when the user's Internet data reaches 40 GB in the current month, the speed is reduced from 100 Mbps to less than 1 Mbps; after the monthly usage flow reaches 100 GB, the monthly data function stops.  It will resume automatically the next month. The Wulingyuan Branch found that China Mobile essentially establishes a highest limit for the user's monthly data usage, which obviously breaches the ‘unlimited data’ promise.

China Mobile’s advertisement has a substantial impact on potential users’ buying behaviour. In terms of content, the advertisement states only part of the facts and easily leads to misunderstanding; for example, China Mobile uses a relatively small font to mark additional conditions such as data limit and speed reduction, causing users to purchase the data service in the mistaken belief that data is really unlimited. The company’s behaviour violates Article 28(2) of the Advertising Law and constitutes false advertising.

Wulingyuan Branch ordered China Mobile to immediately make a correction and imposed a fine of RMB 31,186.25 (approx. US$ 4536.97) for publishing false advertising. China Telecom and China Unicom were also fined RMB 32,500 (approx. USD 4728.10) and RMB 31,657.05 (approx. USD 4605.47) respectively, for false advertising.

 

王老吉案一审法院判赔偿14.41亿元

广州白云山医药集团股份有限公司(简称“广药”)系"王老吉"注册商标所有权人。2000年5月2日,广药曾与加多宝母公司鸿道集团签订《商标许可协议》,许可鸿道集团在中国大陆使用“王老吉”商标至2010年5月1日,后又分别于2002年11月及2003年6月签订两项《补充协议》,最终合同期限至2020年5月1日止。但后遭中国国际经济贸易仲裁委员会认定,两项《补充协议》无效。2014年,广药向广东省高级人民法院提起民事诉讼,主张广东加多宝侵犯其“王老吉”注册商标并要求赔偿经济损失人民币10亿元,加多宝集团其他五家公司承担连带赔偿责任。2015年2月,广药将赔偿金额变更为29.3亿元。

法院认为《补充协议》系因鸿道集团向时任广药集团副董事长和总经理李某行贿得以签订,因而属于"恶意串通,损害国家利益和第三方当事人利益"的无效合同,自始无效。故加多宝公司使用涉案"王老吉"商标的行为,在2000《商标许可协议》届满之后就不再存在合法依据。此外,在广药集团已提起仲裁申请、明确主张《补充协议》无效之后,加多宝不仅没有立即停止使用被诉标识进行合理避让,反而将一直使用的双面"王老吉"商标标识改成一面"王老吉"、一面"加多宝"标识,其将原积累于广药集团"王老吉"商标之上的商誉转移到"加多宝"商标的主观恶意明显,广东省高级人民法院认定广药集团关于加多宝被诉行为构成侵权并存在侵权主观恶意的主张有理并作出一审判决,判令加多宝集团相关六家公司赔偿广药经济损失及合理维权费用共计14.41亿元。加多宝在官网发表声明称将提起上诉。

The Court of the First Instance Awards 1.441 Billion Yuan (approx. US$ 201,000,000) in Wong Lo Kat Trademark Dispute

Guangzhou Baiyunshan Pharmaceutical Holdings.,Ltd (Guangzhou Pharmaceutical) is the owner of registered trademark ‘Wong Lo Kat’. On 2 May 2000, it entered into a Trademark License Agreement with JDB’s parent company, Hung to Company (Hung), permitting it to use the ‘Wong Lo Kat’ trademark in mainland China until 1 May 2010. The parties signed two separate Supplemental Agreements , the first in November 2002, the second in June 2003,  stipulating that the Trademark License Agreement shall expire on 1 May 2020. The China International Economic and Trade Arbitration Commission subsequently held that the two Supplemental Agreements had been entered into as a result of bribery.

In 2014, Guangzhou Pharmaceutical filed a lawsuit with the Guangdong Higher People's Court, claiming that JDB had infringed its ‘Wong Lo Kat’ registered trademark and demanding compensation for economic loss of 1 billion yuan (Approx. US$15 million). It claimed that five companies in the JDB Group were jointly liable to pay the compensation. In February 2015, Guangzhou Pharmaceutical changed the amount of compensation being sought to 2.93 billion yuan (approx. US$430 million).

The Court held that the Supplementary Agreements had been signed as a result of Hung bribing the vice chairman and general manager of Guangzhou Pharmaceutical. The Supplementary Agreements involved a malicious conspiracy, which was detrimental to the interests of the State as well as the parties involved. The Supplementary Agreements were invalid. Therefore, Hung’s continued use of the trademark ‘Wong Lo Kat’ after the original expiry date of the Trademark License Agreement was unauthorised. Further, after Guangzhou Pharmaceutical had filed an arbitration application and the Supplementary Agreements had been held to be invalid, JDB not only did not immediately stop using the  ‘Wong Lo Kat’ trademark, but changed the double-sided  ‘Wong Lo Kat’ trademark logo by replacing the ‘Wong Lo Kat’ logo on one side with the  ‘JDB’ logo.  JDB had malicious intent to transfer the goodwill accumulated on the ‘Wong Lo Kat’ trademark of Guangzhou Pharmaceutical to the ‘JDB’ trademark. The Guangdong Higher People's Court made a first-instance judgment that JDB Group compensate Guangzhou Pharmaceutical for economic loss and reasonable rights protection expenses in the sum of  1.441 billion yuan (approx. US$201 million). JDB has issued a statement on its official website saying that JDB will appeal.

 

网易云音乐与酷我公司侵害作品信息网络传播权纠纷系列案

网易云公司取得一系列歌曲的独家信息网络传播权、转授权,随后发现酷我公司(腾讯音乐娱乐集团旗下三大音乐平台之一)未经许可,通过其运营的酷我音乐web端、pc端以及手机app等多个载体向公众非法传播网易云公司享有版权的音乐并向用户收取费用牟利,分流了移动平台用户,获得了极高的广告收益,严重侵害了网易云公司的著作权及相关权利。

法院认为在解决网络音乐作品纠纷时也应注意促进音乐作品更广泛的传播,法院最终促成双方在网络音乐方面的合作协议,包括交叉许可和授权合作等,实现了合作共赢,取得了良好的法律与社会效果。

NetEase Cloud Music and Kuwo Series Disputes over Infringement on the Right of Communication of Works and Information Via Network

NetEase Cloud Music, a music streaming service, obtained the exclusive right to distribute a series of musical works electronically. After discovering that Kuwo (one of the three major music platforms of Tencent Music Entertainment Group) had illegally distributed NetEase Cloud Music copyrighted music without permission to the public through Kuwo Music web, pc and mobile app, and charged users, NetEase Cloud Music filed a series of lawsuits claiming that Kuwo had diverted mobile platform users, obtained high advertising revenue, and infringed copyright and related rights.

The Court held that in the resolution of disputes over online music works, it should consider, along with the rights of the parties involved, the promotion of wider dissemination of musical works. It encouraged cooperation between the two parties, including cross-licensing and authorization cooperation, which would provide a win-win solution with benefits in both legal and social areas.  The parties subsequently reached agreement.