Shanghai Municipal Court Hears First Trademark Infringement Case on World ExpoSeptember 22, 2003
Shanghai Municipal Court Hears First Trademark Infringement Case on World ExpoRecently, the Office of Shanghai World Exposition filed a lawsuit against Hong Hui Real Estate Company for trademark infringement. This marked a significant moment as the Shanghai Municipal Court, the number two intermediate court in Shanghai, accepted and heard this historic first trademark infringement case filed by the World Exposition office.
The defendant, Hong Hui Real Estate Company, was in the process of building an apartment complex on Quxi road in Shanghai. The owners of the complex originally named the complex “SHI BO HUI,” which in Chinese is pronounced the same as “World Expo,” but is written differently in Chinese characters. In Hong Hui’s ads, the same slogan that had been registered and promoted by the Office of Shanghai World Expo was being used by Hong Hui to attract new customers. Furthermore, the graphics that Hong Hui was using in the ads resembled those already designed and used by World Expo. The Office of Shanghai World Expo immediately sought to stop Hong Hui Real Estate Company from using its name, logo, and slogan, and went on to ask that the company make a public apology for its misconduct in the newspaper.
In the contemporary business world this case is not something new. It has become somewhat commonplace for smaller businesses to take advantage of big businesses’ established reputation by utilizing the larger businesses’ intellectual property. It remains a challenge to government on how to effectively identify and legally protect intangible assets (like a company’s reputation) such as those of Shanghai World Expo’s. As the city of Shanghai has realized, this presents a challenge for all law-making bodies of the future.