Unitalen wins trademark infringement lawsuit on behalf of BiosTime

February 20, 2008
Since 2000, collaborating with French Lallemand Group, BiosTime Inc., Guangzhou (“Guangzhou BiosTime”) has been promoting and marketing probiotics and other nutraceutucals in China using brand name “BiosTime”.
BiosTime sachets have won a good reputation due to the quality and efficacy and the trademark has been selected as Well-Known Trademark in China.

However, Guangzhou BiosTime became aware of a Dalian Company’s illegal use of合生元—the Chinese translation of BiosTime on their product instructions, labels, packaging and the prominent place of handbags. The infringing products were found being sold in a drugstore in Weihai, Shandong Province.

Guangzhou BiosTime held the opinion that the Dalian company had seriously infringed BiosTime’s trademark right and therefore entrusted Beijing Unitalen Attorneys at Law to initiate a lawsuit against the Dalian company to Qingdao Municipal Intermediate People’s Court of Shandong.

In February 2007, the court started the hearing of the case. The Dalian Company contended that 合生元 is a generic name and it is legitimate to use it. The chief judge deemed that 合生元 could not be recognized as generic name of the products. 合生元 is just one version of the Chinese translation of synbiotics. There are several other versions such as “共生源”、“合生原” and “合生素”. Synbiotics has no dictionary meaning and has not been cataloged into any industry. The court held that the Dalian company had not sufficiently proven its case only based on some scholars’ opinion that 合生元is a generic name.

The court concluded in the first instance that the Dalian company must cease its infringing activities immediately and pay Guangzhou BiosTimes RMB130,000 ($17,333) in compensation.