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Chinese hijackers: cunning

April 2019. Chinese trademark hijackers are very cunning. They recently found a way of fooling the Chinese Trademark Office by filing word marks in China which closely resemble the world-famous Lacoste crocodile. But Lacoste isn’t taking this lying down.

Inventive

The ploy they’re using is certainly inventive. After all, if you apply to register a word mark in China, the trademark office only checks it against older word mark registrations. If there are none, the registration can go ahead.

Wordmark or logo?

In China, trademark hijackers now appear to be applying to register large numbers of word marks made up of Chinese characters, whose shape and sequence effectively render them device marks. The Chinese Trademark Administration, however, regards them as word marks. And because the words themselves have nothing to do with Lacoste, they’re approved for registration.

Successful oppositions

But Lacoste isn’t standing still either. The French fashion brand has filed oppositions to over 60 of these trademarks so far, in most cases with success. And in the few instances where it has lost its case, it has now filed applications for cancellation. So the cunning Chinese ploy looks like it’s failed after all.