Chinese IP Law Updates
June 18, 2020

The Principle of “Good Faith” Matters

The Principle of Good Faith Should Always Be Followed in an Application for Trademark Registration

Co-Author: Walker Xu, Joffy Li

The principle of good faith is indispensable in the field of civil law and civil activities, which is clearly stipulated in the general principles of the Civil Law of the People’s Republic of China as well as the General Provisions of the Civil Law of the People’s Republic of China.

The Trademark Law of the People’s Republic of China (Trademark Law) first introduced the principle of good faith in the amended version of 2013 and stipulated that it should be followed when applying for registration and using trademarks.

However, as a principle clause, this provision is usually not directly adopted by administrative authorities in practical procedures such as trademark rejection, opposition, and invalidation. For example, in the specific situations that are listed in Article 33 of the current Trademark Law, where an opposition can be filed with the Trademark Office, it does not include trademark applications that violate the principle of good faith. The general understanding is that the principle of good faith has been refined and reflected through other relevant clauses.

HongFangLaw (HFL) has recently helped our clients in raising oppositions against those who maliciously squatted several pieces of trademarks by citing the principle of good faith. CNIPA (China National Intellectual Property Administration) accepted the claims posed by HFL and held that the trademark applications with malicious squatting registrations shall be disapproved on the grounds of violating the principle of good faith.

In these cases, the Cited Trademark owned by our client has gained a certain popularity in the industrial field via long-term use and is an original trademark with high distinctiveness. The Squatter who filed applications on bad faith applied for multiple trademark registrations in that way, using our client’s trademarks alone or in combination. In this regard, HFL filed an opposition against those malicious trademark applications with CNIPA and clearly pointed out that the acts of malicious trademark squatting had violated the principle of good faith as stipulated in article 7 of the Trademark Law, as well as damaged the legitimate rights and interests of our client.

After examination, the CNIPA adopted HFL opinions. At present, the State Intellectual Property Office has made a decision not to register related trademarks applied for by cybersquatters.