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‘SWISSGEAR’ Trademark Rejected by Beijing Court in Final Decision

Wenger S.A.’s filed an application for registration of “SWISSGEAR” trademark registration in China, in September 2007, to be used on Class 25 products including clothes and wallet, then was rejected successively by the Trademark Office (TMO) and Trademark Review and Adjudication Board (TRAB), both under the former State Administration for Industry and Commerce. The company then launched an administrative lawsuit to court.

Recently, Beijing High People's Court rejected the appeal from Wenger S.A., upholding the disapproval ruling of No.6272275 trademark "SWISSGEAR" (trademark in dispute) registration.

Within the period of statutory objection, Fuzhou Cross- Ocean Trading Co., LTD lodged an opposition application. In June, 2013, TMO made a decision that the trademark in dispute was similar to the country name of SWISS and was unfit to be used as trademark. Accordingly, TMO rejected the registration of the trademark in dispute. The disgruntled Wenger pled the TRAB for reexamination and submitted the evidences including "SWISSGEAR BY WENGER" trademark registration certificate in Switzerland and a notarial certificate on July, 11, 2013.

TRAB held that "SWISS" in the trademark in dispute was similar to the country name of Switzerland and rejected the registration. In addition, the mere registration of "SWISSGEAR BY WENGER" trademark in Switzerland did not mean the Swiss government had agreed the registration of the trademark in dispute. As a result, TRAB made a disapproval ruling of the registration of the trademark in dispute. Wenger S.A. then brought the case to the IP court.

Beijing IP court held that the trademark in dispute constituted the similarity to the name of Switzerland and the registration of "SWISSGEAR BY WENGER" trademark in Switzerland could not be recognized as Switzerland government's permission of the registration in China. On this ground, Beijing IP court dismissed the appeal in the first instance.Wenger S.A then appealed to Beijing High People's Court.

After hearing, Beijing High People's Court held that the registration of the "SWISSGEAR" trademark in Switzerland was unable to prove the permission of Switzerland government. Without the direct evidence of the Switzerland government's agreement to its registration in China, the trademark in dispute could not be used as a trademark.

Accordingly, Beijing High denied its final ruling against Wenger S.A. and upheld the first-instance decision.

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