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In the dispute on "野马(Yema)" brand, Tian Yuan helped the domestic automobile manufacturer win the first battle for rights protection

2018-01-04

The competition in the domestic automobile market is increasingly fierce, and the competition for brands has been extended from commercial management to legal level. The dispute and lawsuit between Sichuan Yema Automobile Co., Ltd. (hereinafter referred to as "Yema Auto") and Ford Motor ("Ford") and its subsidiary Ford China Co., Ltd (hereinafter referred to as "Ford China") have drawn a wide attention. Sun Yan and Wang Qi, lawyers of Tian Yuan, represented Yema Auto to defend in the civil and administrative litigations respectively and both won the first instance of the two cases.

Yema Auto is a domestic automaker in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, and is the owner of the "野马(Yema)" trademark. The "野马(Yema)" trademark has been approved to be registered for automobiles and related commodities since the 1980s and is a genuine national automobile brand. Yema Auto has a good quality and has won major provincial and ministerial quality awards for many times. For example, a "Yema" automobile had been flooded in the Tangjia Shan dammed lake for 78 days during the Wenchuan Earthquake and then could still run after being taken out of the lake.

"Mustang" is a vehicle brand owned by Ford. In order to make the foreign brand acceptable to Chinese consumers as soon as possible, Ford applied for the registration of the trademark "福特野马" in China. Ford China, a wholly owned subsidiary of China, when introducing the "Mustang" brand into the Chinese market, directly used “野马” as the Chinese logo and brand of "Mustang" for many times in advertising and marketing. Ford's actions forced Yema Auto to take up legal arms and defend its brand's dignity and rights.

With the efforts of more than a year, the administrative review dispute case to declare the invalidity of the trademark "福特野马" by Tian Yuan on behalf of Yema Motor and the civil dispute that Ford China and its authorized agents infringe the trademark rights received the result of judgment of the first instance:

The Administrative Award No. (2016) Jing 73 Xing Chu 2973 made by Beijing Intellectual Property Court, determined to cancel the Award Shang Ping Zi [2016] No. 39573 by State Administration For Industry & Commerce of the People's Republic of China Trademark Review and Adjudication Board on Declaring the Invalidity of Trademark 9817109 “福特野马” and ordered the latter to deliver another judgment.

With the civil award numbered (2016) Chuan 01 Min Chu 15, Chengdu Municipal Intermediate People's Court determined Ford China to stop infringing on the exclusive rights of Yema Auto to the registered trademark "野马(Yema)", and within fifteen (15) days after the effective date of the award, Ford China shall publish a statement on its "official website" to eliminate the impact and provide RMB 1 million as the compensation for the economic loss of Yema Auto.

For a long time, if the car price is higher and then the relevant public may pay more attention; Therefore, the reasons, for example, the parent brand is more distinctive, etc. always becomes the main defense point in the case of declaring invalid trademark or the case of trademark infringement. As the agent for this case, the lawyers of Tian Yuan, in consideration of the components of the trademark, the features of the automobile industry, the brand appellation habit, the actual use by the defendant, etc. and comprehensively by means of trademark confusion theory, systematically reasoned and fully substantiated the factual and legal issues involved in the case, and their main representative opinion was eventually adopted by the judiciary. Although the "Yema" trademark war has not completely ended, but as a typical case for the domestic automobile brands to actively protect their rights in the automobile industry recently, this case is still positively significant to further promote the rights of domestic brands and promote the orderly competition among different brands. Tian Yuan lawyers will continue to contribute their own wisdom and strength to this end.


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