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.

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Photo of Dan Harris Dan Harris

Dan is a founder of Harris Bricken, an international law firm with lawyers in Los Angeles, Portland, San Francisco, Seattle, China and Spain.

He primarily represents companies doing business in emerging market countries, having spent years building and maintaining a global, professional network. 

Dan is a founder of Harris Bricken, an international law firm with lawyers in Los Angeles, Portland, San Francisco, Seattle, China and Spain.

He primarily represents companies doing business in emerging market countries, having spent years building and maintaining a global, professional network.  His work has been as varied as securing the release of two improperly held helicopters in Papua New Guinea, setting up a legal framework to move slag from Canada to Poland’s interior, overseeing hundreds of litigation and arbitration matters in Korea, helping someone avoid terrorism charges in Japan, and seizing fish product in China to collect on a debt.

He was named as one of only three Washington State Amazing Lawyers in International Law, is AV rated by Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory (its highest rating), is rated 10.0 by AVVO.com (also its highest rating), and is a recognized SuperLawyer.

Dan is a frequent writer and public speaker on doing business in Asia and constantly travels between the United States and Asia. He most commonly speaks on China law issues and is the lead writer of the award winning China Law Blog. Forbes Magazine, Fortune Magazine, the Wall Street Journal, Investors Business Daily, Business Week, The National Law Journal, The Washington Post, The ABA Journal, The Economist, Newsweek, NPR, The New York Times and Inside Counsel have all interviewed Dan regarding various aspects of his international law practice.

Dan is licensed in Washington, Illinois, and Alaska.

In tandem with the international law team at his firm, Dan focuses on setting up/registering companies overseas (via WFOEs, Rep Offices or Joint Ventures), drafting international contracts (NDAs, OEM Agreements, licensing, distribution, etc.), protecting IP (trademarks, trade secrets, copyrights and patents), and overseeing M&A transactions.