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Trademark Applicant & Chinese IP Agency Fined for Malicious Registration of Coronavirus Related Trademarks

On March 26, 2020, the Shaoxing Market Supervision Bureau of Zhejiang Province fined a Chinese intellectual property firm, a trademark applicant and a trademark agent responsible for attempting to register a trademark for “Li Wenliang” (李文亮), a famous doctor that later succumbed to COVID-19 after earlier attempts to warn others of a possible new outbreak.   Specifically, the Bureau fined applicant Yang Mofang, the agency Shaoxing Intellectual Property Agency Co., Ltd. and the trademark agent Chen Mougang 2,000 RMB, 20,000 RMB and 10,000 RMB respectively. This is believed to be the first time a trademark applicant was fined for malicious filing of a trademark.  This is the second IP agency to be fined.

 On March 3, 2020, the Shaoxing Market Supervision Bureau was informed that Shaoxing Intellectual Property Agency Co., Ltd.  represented the trademark applicant Yang Moufang for the trademark registration application of “Li Wenliang.”  On the 4th , the Municipal Bureau’s Trademark Advertising Office and the Comprehensive Administrative Law Enforcement Team conducted surprise inspections of relevant business establishments, conducted administrative interviews with relevant responsible persons  and required them to withdraw their applications immediately. In the afternoon, the agency quickly withdrew the trademark registration application. On the 5th, the Shaoxing Municipal Bureau filed an investigation on the applicant, agency and directly responsible person for the malicious registration of the “Li Wenliang” trademark. On March 26, administrative penalties were imposed on the relevant parties. 

Per the Bureau, “Li Wenliang was a Wuhan Central Hospital ophthalmologist  unfortunately infected in the fight against new coronavirus epidemic. After his sacrifice, public opinion in the whole society was highly concerned and he had achieved a high degree of popularity and influence in the country. Several parties in the case knew or should have known these circumstances and still applied for trademarks on Dr. Li, which could easily cause significant social adverse effects.”

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About this Author

Aaron Wininger IP Attorney China Portfolio Development
Director of China Intellectual Property Law Practice Schwegman Lundberg & Woessner

Aaron Wininger is a Senior Attorney and Schwegman’s Director of China Intellectual Property. Aaron counsels both U.S. and Chinese companies on portfolio development and preparation of their patent applications and office action responses. He has worked with clients in the areas of software, networks (wired and wireless), lasers, medical devices, semiconductors and physics.

Aaron prosecutes both Chinese and U.S. trademarks. He has also drafted and prosecuted hundreds of U.S. and international patent applications in a broad spectrum of areas, including computer hardware and software,...