Hearing authority: Hubei Provincial High People's Court
Cause of action: Trademark infringement and unfair competition dispute
Unitalen representative: the appellee
Appellant Jingshan Association of Grain Sector had the certification trademark of the geographical indication "京山桥米(Jingshan Bridge Rice)", and the appellee was authorized to use the trademark "金龙鱼桥米(Jinlongyu Bridge Rice)" of the person not involved in the case. The appellant and its licensee, Hubei National Treasure Bridge Rice Co., Ltd. believed that the appellee's use of marks such as "泉眼山下巧米香(quan yan shan xia qiao mi xiang)", "桥米源京山(qiao mi yuan jing shan)", "地处京山(di chu jing shan)", "纳大红山脉(na da hong shan mai)", "成就孙桥(cheng jiu sun qiao)" (hereinafter referred to as "the sued infringing marks") on the sued goods is sufficient to cause misunderstanding of the source of origin and specific quality, constituting the infringement of the certification mark "京山桥米(Jingshan Bridge Rice)". The appellee argued that the sued infringing mark was "descriptive use" which objectively and truly described the characteristics of the product such as production region and geographical location, rather than "trademark use". After hearing, Hubei High People's Court held that the raw material of the "金龙鱼桥米(Jinlongyu Bridge Rice)" sued goods was indeed "Bridge Rice 537" rice purchased from Sunqiao Town, Jingshan City. The sued infringing mark as a whole is not similar to the certification mark "京山桥米(Jingshan Bridge Rice)", and the appellee had been authorized to use the registered trademark "金龙鱼桥米(Jinlongyu Bridge Rice)". Taking into account the subjective intent, using manner, consumer awareness and other factors, the aforementioned use truthfully expressed or described the production region, geographical location and other characteristics of the rice product, belonging to descriptive use of the relevant text and pictures, which did not constitute trademark infringement.
This case provides a full discussion on the proper use of the geographical indication certification mark. The geographical indication certification mark refers to a mark certifying the place of origin of the goods of which the special quality is primarily determined by the natural conditions of the location involved and is used to prove that the goods using the geographical indication certification mark has special quality and meets special standards. The trademark owner has the right to prohibit natural persons, legal persons or other organizations from marking the certification trademark on the goods that are not produced from such region, and to pursue the infringement responsibility of the certification trademark. The protection of a certification mark has its own special characteristics, but as a registered trademark, like ordinary trademarks, the certification mark is still subject to general provisions of the Trademark Law, and the registered trademark right holder thereof also has no right to prohibit others from properly using the names of places or other names that indicate the quality, raw materials and characteristics of goods contained in the trademark.