International trademark cases appear to get sticky, especially in China. Fortunately, this recent trademark case did not get lost in translation.
Chinese beverage company attempted to argue that the Chinese word for their milk-flavored drinks and porridge, 脸书 or “lian shu,” coincidentally happened to translate to the popular brand name we all know and love, “face book”
The Chinese beverage company’s vision was that everyone could sip on their trademarked “face book” drinks. A Chinese trademark court didn’t buy it and ruled in favor of Facebook, the popular social network.
The beverage company’s Marketing Manager, Liu Hongqun, explained to the Wall Street Journal that the Chinese term for “face book” refers to a historical figure in traditional Chinese opera. The Chinese company further argued that the term “lian shu” is very well known in China. The beverage company stated that they were never intending to infringe on the social network’s brand.
Despite the beverage companies plea, no one will be sipping the “face book” drink any more as the popular social network, Facebook, won the trademark case.
This trademark case brings somewhat of a boost of confidence for U.S. companies and startups who are also hoping to uphold their filed trademarks in the Chinese market.
For those of you who are looking to protect your brand in foreign countries like China, your best option is to be sure to be sure to file your trademark internationally to enforce your trademark protection abroad.