Beijing IPR Court recently handled a case lodged by British Defense Ministry (BDM) against the Trademark Review Abroad (TRAB) under the State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC) over several trademark registrations. In early 2005 and 2009, BDM filed ADMIRALTY trademarks filings to the Trademark Office (TMO) under SAIC through Madrid Agreement. However, BDM's filings were denied on grounds of lack of significance and having adverse effects.
On April 17, 2013, BDM handled three trademark filings to TMO. TMO rejected BDM's on grounds of having adverse effects. Three trademarks of ADMIRALTY and figure filings were denied. BDM then sought review from TRAB.
TRAB held that the trademarks in dispute lack of significance, and rejected BDM's request.
Disgruntled BDM brought the case to the court. BDM claims that ADMIRALTY refers to the British Admiralty specially, and the figure is British Admiralty's official emblem. As a result, the ADMIRALTY and the figure are distinctive. Meanwhile, ADMIRALTY and its figure have been used as trademarks worldwide for over two centuries, and have been familiar to Chinese consumers.
TRAB held that ADMIRALTY and its figure are distinctive for the subject, not for the commodities.
During the trial, TRAB agreed that the ADMIRALTY refers to British Admiralty specially. The court held that, two sides have controversial arguments that the objective distinctiveness should or not be regarded as trademark significances.
CIP News will follow up further development of the case.