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The Hebei Yang-Yuan Zhi-Hui Beverage Limited-Liability Company ("the plaintiff ") sued the Shijiazhuang Zhen-Zi-Wei Beverage Co., Ltd. and Zhang Xiuzhen (an individual) for trademark infringement and unfair competition disputes. The Hebei Province Baoding City Intermediate People's Court has made a judgment and the judgment is now effective. The court determined that the defendant's action constituted trademark infringement and unfair competition, and the defendant is ordered to immediately stop producing and selling the infringing products and compensate the plaintiff for economic losses.
-- Introduction of the Case
The plaintiff is the owner of the registered trademarks "" No. 10833342 and "" No. 5127315, which were approved for use in commodities such as "almond milk (drinks), bean beverages, and plant beverages". The products of the mark "Six Walnuts" of the plaintiff all enjoy the design patents. As the representative product of the plaintiff, the "six walnuts" products have the popularity and reputation among the relevant public in our country. This trademark has once been recognized as a well-known trademark by the State Administration for Industry and Commerce in 2015 . The Hebei Administration for Industry and Commerce announced in the China Industry and Commerce News that the "Six Walnuts" milk drink is a famous commodity in Hebei Province in 2013, and its unique packaging and decoration are protected by law. The packaging and decoration pictures are attached below the announcement, all of which have obtained design patents.
The defendant used the mark "Six Walnut Peanut drink" on a prominent position of similar products, and its sales behavior was identified by the Administration for Industry and Commerce as selling goods that infringed the exclusive right of the registered trademark, which constituted trademark infringement.
-- Judgment points
The court indicated that the defendant’s actions infringed the plaintiff’s trademark rights and constituted unfair competition.
The mark "Six Walnut Peanut drink" sold by the defendant was basically the same as the plaintiff’s trademark, which caused consumers to confuse or misunderstand the origin of the goods. It used trademarks similar to others on the same goods, infringing on the exclusive rights of others’ registered trademarks. .
The various packaging of the mark "Six Walnut Peanut drink" beverage produced and sold by the defendant, its main colors, text and arrangement, patterns and layout, the content of the propaganda statement, the position and image of the spokesperson imitate entirely the plaintiff's mark "six walnuts". "The packaging and decoration of beverages are the use of packaging and decoration similar to well-known commodities, which make the purchaser mistakenly believe that it is the plaintiff's goods or has a specific connection with the plaintiff, thus constituting unfair competition with the plaintiff.
Regarding the amount of compensation, the court determined the plaintiff’s economic losses and reasonable expenses as RMB 8,000 based on factors such as the nature and duration of the infringement, the price of the infringing goods, the variety of the infringed goods, the scale of operations, and the local economic development level .
-- Lawyer Comments
The key point of this case is the determination of the defendant’s compensation. The plaintiff’s trademark "Six Walnuts" has invested hundreds of millions of RMB in advertising costs on CCTV and various local satellite TVs, and has spent huge manpower and material resources. After years of development, it has been recognized as a well-known trademark. Under the circumstances where the defendant’s infringement was so obvious, the court only awarded the defendant a compensation of RMB 8,000, which was obviously far lower than the defendant’s losses and reasonable expenses. At the beginning of the case, we knew that in the intellectual property field litigation, the determination of the amount of compensation in some of my country's relatively backward areas is still in the traditional lagging concept, which is not conducive to the right holders to protect their legitimate rights and interests. Therefore, we have tried to use litigation techniques, hoping that the case can be governed by more developed regional courts, such as Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen. However, since the defendant’s infringement mainly occurred in Hebei province, upon the various searches, we and the client failed to find the defendant’s infringement in developed areas. Therefore, this case is still under the jurisdiction of the Hebei court and the above judgment was made accordingly.