Tencent's "王者荣耀"( “Honor of the King”) game was officially announced on October 23, 2015, 3 days later, it was released in Apple App Store and quickly became one of the most popular mobile games, as it topped the free game downloads in Apple App Store on the same day and, later on November 8, it was selected into the National E-sports Open Game with 4.5 million daily active players. It has enjoyed a high reputation among the relevant public.
On November 19 of the same year, Guizhou Wenqu Chengyu Wine Co., Ltd. (hereinafter referred to as “the third party”) submitted the application for registration of the disputed trademark (No. 18379954) "王者荣耀" for Class 33 for "liquor, fruit wine, wine" and other goods, which was approved on December 28, 2016. The third party had also successfully applied for multiple "王者荣耀" related trademarks in Class 33 and 41, and registered a business name as "贵州王者荣耀酒业有限公司”( “Guizhou Honor of King Wine Co., Ltd.”).
On June 19, 2018, Tencent filed a trademark invalidation request against the disputed trademark with the Trademark Review and Adjudication Board (TRAB) of the State Administration for Industry and Commerce. However, TRAB ruled on February 22, 2019 to maintain the registration of the disputed trademark. Tencent then entrusted Unitalen Attorneys at Law to initiate an administrative lawsuit against the TRAB ruling at Beijing IP Court.
Beijing IP Court supported our client’s claims based on Article 32 of the Trademark Law and held that:
1. The "王者荣耀"(Honor of King) game has gained high popularity in a short period of time when it was launched, and was well known to the relevant public before the date of the trademark application, so that its name can be protected as a prior right of the title of the work;
2. The "王者荣耀" game belongs to the field of daily entertainment. Its peripheral products usually cover a variety of fields such as beverages, food, and daily necessities. It’s proved by the plaintiff’s evidences that the popularity of the title of "王者荣耀" game can reach daily life spheres;
3. The "liquor, fruit wine, wine" and other goods in Class 33, which are approved for designated use by the disputed trademark, are also goods of daily life, so that they reach almost the same group of audiences. Registering and using the trademark on these goods may easily mislead the relevant public to perceive of a specific connection between these goods and Tencent’s "王者荣耀" game, which then takes advantage of the market competitive advantage and trading opportunities that shall be enjoyed by Tencent;
4. Combined with the aforementioned popularity level and audience scope, and the fact that the third party had also applied for multiple related trademarks, the third party's application for the disputed trademark is of subjectively malicious.
Therefore, the Beijing IP Court made the ruling of first-instance on June 17, 2020, and found that the registration of the disputed trademark had violated the prior rights and interests enjoyed by Tencent based on the title of the prior work "王者荣耀" , as well as the provisions in Article 32 of the Trademark Law. The administrative decision made by TRAB, the defendant, was revoked.
In the “Press Conference on the Trail of Cases concerning Protection of Prior Right of Titles of Works” held by the Beijing IP Court on June 19, this case was used as a typical case for illustration.