March 9, 2020
The Chinese authority managing trademarks has caught numerous trademark applications filed in bad faith that are riding on the global anxiety caused by the coronavirus. Counterfeit goods are also already rampant on the Chinese market. “The so-called trademark hijackers are quick and ready to take advantage of every opportunity”, trademark specialist Jani Kaulo warns.
The coronavirus has managed to mobilise trademark hustlers in just a few months. Using product names associated with the coronavirus, related doctors, medical supplies, or hospitals erected at a quick pace due to the epidemic as trademarks has been prohibited in China.
The ban has seemingly not slowed down fraudsters. On 5 March, the Chinese Trademark Office released a bulletin stating that it had detected numerous scam attempts related to the coronavirus.
“The ‘Vulcan Mountain’ (火神山) brand alone has been the subject of 63 fraudulent trademark applications according to the Chinese Trademark Office. The name refers to the hospital built at breakneck speed in the city of Wuhan at the centre of the coronavirus outbreak”, says Leena-Maija Marsio, Director of Kolster’s Legal and Trademarks unit.
Kolster is a Finnish expert company specialising in intellectual property rights (IPR) and legal services that also has an office in China.
In its bulletin, the Chinese Trademark Office points out that such practices are against Chinese trademark law and urges all trademark agencies to exercise due diligence, professional ethics, honesty and self-discipline. China’s recently revised trademark law prohibits all applications filed in bad faith.
“The so-called trademark hijackers are quick and ready to take advantage of every opportunity. Everyone should be on the lookout”, says Jani Kaulo, Kolster’s Partner and trademark specialist with a focus on China.
China experts are not surprised by these developments, as copying is widespread in China. In late February, Business Insider reported that 31 million counterfeit face masks had been confiscated in China following a spike in demand and supply shortage.