Chinese IP Law Updates
March 17, 2017

Legal risk for the improper use of the “well-known trademark” expression

The “Chinese well-known trademark” propaganda has been widely used in commodity packaging, and commercial advertising. In fact, consumers are often lured into thinking that the wording “well-known trademarks”, in Chinese “驰名商标”, must represent a good and respected brand, with high credibility.

In recent cases involving “well-known trademarks” false propaganda, there was one concerning a manufacturer in the product packaging business, which carried the “Chinese well-known trademark” expression. Consumers whom bought the products in question, asked the court to prosecute the company for false advertising, and asked the product sellers to bear punitive damages. The court has given its support to the consumers after hearing the case.

In this case, the manufacturer’s misleading “well-known trademark” behavior was clearly contrary to the Consumer Rights Protection Law, and the relevant provisions of the Advertising Law. Even though carrying the “well-known trademark” was not fictitious, its packaging marking “Chinese well-known trademark” violates the provisions of the Trademark Law.

The Trademark law, which was revised early in 2013 and came into effect on May 1, 2014, imposes severe restrictions on the use of the “well-known trademarks” wordings, stating that improper use may face high administrative penalties.

However, the use of the “well-known trademark” expression is not always prohibited in business processes, but it is not easy to know how to use it rationally, as you would need to accurately grasp the legal risks, and boundaries.

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