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Rights to Doraemon image ruled in Beijing

The Beijing Intellectual Property Court upheld the Trademark Review and Adjudication Board’s decision over the rights to popular Japanese cartoon image Doraemon at a recent trademark hearing.

Doraemon is a popular character in the Japanese manga and animation series of the same name, which became a hit in China after it was introduced in the 1990s.

Jiqimao, a children’s shoemaker in Jinjiang, Fujian province, filed an application with the then State Administration for Industry and Commerce in 2012, attempting to use an image similar to Doraemon for its trademark.

The trademark was granted at the end of 2015 for use on baby outfits, shoes, hats, gloves and scarves.

Animation International (Shanghai) Ltd, which has been authorized as the holder of the Doraemon copyright, disputed the trademark and filed an invalidation request with the Trademark Review and Adjudication Board in December 2016.

The board ruled in favor of the Shanghai company about a year later. In response, Jiqimao filed a complaint against the board with the Beijing court in January, seeking to revoke the decision.

The court found that the graphic part of the trademark owned by Jiqimao constituted “substantial similarity” to Doraemon, which is a copyrighted image.

Evidence presented in court showed that the Doraemon copyright was created before the disputed trademark was granted.

Thus the Shanghai company, as the authorized party, had the rights prior to Jiqimao. Without its permission, Jiqimao's trademark registration infringed the prior copyright, according to the court.

Meanwhile, the court found that Animation International had also been granted the Doraemon image trademark for use on swimsuits, waistbands, raincoats, costumes and shower caps.

Animation International’s trademark and the one in question are in the same category yet different segments.

The disputed trademark infringed the Doraemon copyright and as a result, the plaintiff’s claim was rejected, according to the court.


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