In July 2021, Beijing Intellectual Property Court rendered the first-instance judgment on the trademark infringement and unfair competition case of Lianfan Computer Technology (Shanghai) Co., Ltd (hereinafter referred to as the “Plaintiff”) v. Shanghai Gaoge Film and Television Production Co., Ltd., Shanghai Film (Group) Co., Ltd., Tencent Pictures Cultural Communication Co., Ltd., Dadi Digital Cinema Corporation, Beijing Herui Film Culture Co., Ltd., and Wang Yuan (汪远) (hereinafter referred to as the “Defendants”). Pursuant to the judgment, the six Defendants were ordered to stop the acts of unfair competition, eliminate the impact arising therefrom and compensate the Plaintiff for the economic losses of CNY 4 million and reasonable expenses of CNY 300,000.
Beijing Intellectual Property Court held that the Plaintiff’s rights in ‘Ipartment’ (爱情公寓) Season 1 and ‘Ipartment’ Season 2 were confirmed by the binding judgment, and that the Plaintiff's authorization should be obtained if anyone wanted to use the name of the TV drama, character setting, and relevant plots, etc. After the production of the said TV drama is completed, it has been continuously broadcast on a number of TV channels and online platforms, and has gained high attention and popularity. As the name of the TV drama, “Ipartment” generally reflects the theme, content, comedy characteristics and type of the TV drama. It is identifiable in terms of the source of TV drama, and it can be regarded as a “commodity name with certain influence” and should be protected by the Anti-Unfair Competition Law. The Defendants, without the Plaintiff's authorization, used “Ipartment” as the name of the film involved in the case, promoted and publicized it. Subjectively, the Defendants had the intention to make use of the existing goodwill of the TV drama, “Ipartment” Seasons One and Two through the use of the same name. Objectively, the defendants caused confusion and misidentification among the relevant public, harmed the competitive interests of the Plaintiff, and constituted “unauthorized use of another commodity’s name which has certain influence” stipulated in Article 6 (1) of the Anti-unfair Competition Law, thus constituting unfair competition, and the Defendants should bear corresponding civil liabilities.
Beijing Intellectual Property Court also pointed out that the film title and character names in the case did not play a role in distinguishing the source of services, so the court dismissed the Plaintiff’s claim that the act involved in the case infringed on the Plaintiff’s right to exclusively use the registered trademark.
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Contributors: CJO Staff Contributors Team