Wyeth awarded 30.55M yuan punitive damages over TM against malicious copycats

发布时间: 2021/1/27 9:09:00

  Over its eponymous trademark, American firm Wyeth LLC had been entangling in an IPR battle with Guangzhou Wyeth Baby Products Co., Ltd. (Guangzhou Wyeth) for years in China.

  Wyeth LLC sued Guangzhou Wyeth and other five companies for trademark infringement and unfair competition at Hangzhou Intermediate Court. Recently, the Court made the first-instance decision, ruling that the six defendants' acts of using Wyeth, 惠氏 (Wyeth's transliteration) and惠氏小狮子 (Wyeth Little Lion in Chinese) in manufacturing and sales products, packaging and brochures constituted trademark infringement. One of the codefendants, Qingdao Wyeth's use of Wyeth in its corporate name constituted unfair competition. The Court held that the defendants' malicious infringement of Wyeth's good-will and brand name was obvious and therefore punitive damage was appropriate. Guangzhou Wyeth and other defendants were ordered to indemnify 30.55 million yuan in damages and reasonable legal costs. Wyeth LLC's financial claim was virtually fully supported by the Court.

  During the hearing, Wyeth LLC asserted that even after Guangzhou Wyeth's six acquired惠氏and Wyeth trademarks were already declared invalid, and its acts of using those trademarks were found trademark infringement and unfair competition by the Supreme People's Court, Guangzhou Wyeth's incessant use of those trademarks in distributing of infant bathing products was obviously malicious. The American company sought punitive damages, an injunction against the six defendants, an all-inclusive 33 million yuan in damages and reasonable costs.

  Guangzhou Wyeth argued that its use of the six trademarks -before the above-mentioned decisions became effective - was lawful and was an investment and operation based on the trust of the credibility of registered trademarks. There was no malicious use of the trademarks and infringement of Wyeth LCC's trademarks. In addition, it had never used Wyeth in its trade name in a prominent fashion - let alone constituting infringement.

  Hangzhou Intermediate, however,held that Guangzhou Wyeth and the other five co-defendants used the marks Wyeth, 惠氏and Wyeth Little Lion on the infringing products, product packaging and brochures manufactured and sold by them, and made promotions of them on websites. This constituted use of trademarks that were the same or similar with Wyeth's registered trademarks on similar goods, which would easily mislead the relevant public about the source of the goods and had infringed the exclusive rights of Wyeth's registered trademarks.In addition, co-defendant Qingdao Wyeth's use of Wyeth in its trademark was found an act of unfair competition.

  In this connection, the Court made the above judgment. Our reporter attempted to contact attorneys of both sides, but neither returned to us before press time. At present, the defendants have filed an appeal aganist the decison.(by Sun Fanghua)

  (Editor Li Xingyi)

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