Unitalen Client SALEEN Successfully Fought Against Trademark Squatting in China

July 11, 2019

Case Summary:

SALEEN is the world's top supercar brand of the US. Since its inception in 1983, it has won the World Super Run Manufacturer Award for 13 times. Its products include super-run cars, super-run SUVs and urban electric sports cars. Upon entering the Chinese market, SALEEN Automobile Company found that there was a malicious squatter, namely the plaintiff - Changzhou Lv Pai Electric Vehicle Co., Ltd. (hereinafter referred to as “Changzhou Lv Pai Company”), in Class 12 for car, which is its core product. The plaintiff applied for the registration of “SALEEN” and “赛麟” (pronounced as “sai lin” in pinyin) trademarks, which had hindered SALEEN company from registering its brand name as trademark. As a usual practice for a foreign company in face of squatting, SALEEN initially resorted to negotiating the trademark transfer with Changzhou Lv Pai Company, however, the other party maliciously changed the offer for numerous times, so that SALEEN decided to abandon the transfer negotiation and adjusted its strategy to entrust Unitalen to propose opposition to the No. 16896174 “SALEEN” and No. 16896286 “赛麟” trademarks (hereinafter referred to as “the disputed trademarks”) during the preliminary review and publication period, which was supported by the then Trademark Office (known as CNIPA now) with refusal of registration ruled, and was also supported by TRAB in the review of the refusal decision. Changzhou Lv Pai Company, in disagreement with the above decisions, appealed to the Beijing IP Court.


Court Decision:

In April 2019, the Beijing IP Court issued the judgement of the first instance arguing that the two disputed trademarks are respectively related to the constituent elements of the cited No. 14139175 “WM-Saleen” and No. 14139168 “威蒙赛麟” (pronounced as “Wei Meng Sai Lin” in pinyin) trademarks, although with slight difference, the disputed and cited trademarks had constituted similarity as the difference is not obvious on the whole. Meanwhile, considering the factors such as the function and use of the designated goods of the disputed and cited trademarks, which are the same or similar, so it has constituted similar trademarks on similar goods. Therefore, the plaintiff’s claim is rejected.