Just came across a really good post on a new blog out there called China Business Law blog. The blog is written by Brad Luo, an SMU law student/soon to be China lawyer.
The post is entitled, “Starbucks v. Shanghai Copycat” and it consists of a spot-on analysis of the famous Starbucks v. Xingbake case, written in the style of a law student. I mean that as a compliment. More than anything else, law school teaches how to read and analyze a case and one’s skills at that typically gradually decline upon graduation. I can still hear Professor Dworkin rousing me from my nap by announcing to the class that Mr. Harris will “state the facts” in some case and then — without giving me a full opportunity to wake fully — demanding to know why I agree or disagree with the decision. Gosh, I almost miss it.
Anyway, law students become masters of these things, and if you want to see a thorough analysis of the Chinese Supreme Court’s handling of the Starbucks trademark case, check out Brad’s post.
The Starbucks decision actually came down earlier this year, but Brad wrote the post now to extol the fact that Xingbake (after losing to Starbucks) just changed its name and took down all offending signage.
Brad also does a fine job telling foreign businesses what to take from this case:
Why didn’t Starbucks Co. register the Chinese version of ‘STARBUCKS’– ‘Xing Bake’ [???] at the same time it did in Taiwan? Why didn’t it register as soon as such a trade name became known in Chinese? It could have avoided all this litigation had it done so.
Coupled with Pfizer’s recent loss in a Chinese court for failing to be the first one to register the Chinese version of ‘Viagra”’Weige’ [??] (meaning ‘Great Man’), the Chinese courts are speaking clearly and loudly: REGISTER YOUR TRADEMARKS EARLY, BOTH IN ENGLISH AND CHINESE. Also, it is important to know that the trademark registration regimes in mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau are independent of each other, and that a trademark owner needs to register its mark throughout the Greater China area.
Or as Dan Hull so succinctly put it on his What About Clients’ Blog, “Dude, register your IP in China.”
It is that simple.