Registration of “Champagne” as Collective Trademarks Greatly Strengthens Its Protection in China
(Author: Mr. LEI Yongjian; Source: WAN HUI DA)
“Champagne” and its Chinese transliteration “香槟” now can be protected as trademarks in China, which makes it possible for future administrative raid actions, customs protection and civil litigations initiated on the ground of trademark infringement.
COMITE INTERPROFESSIONNEL DU VIN DE CHAMPAGNE (CIVC) filed the collective trademark applications of geographic indication for “Champagne” and its Chinese transliteration “香槟” on June 27, 2012. Two applications were published on December 20, 2012 and approved for registration on March 20, 2013. WAN HUI DA represented CIVC in this case.
Compared with regular trademarks, the formal and substantial requirements for registering geographic indications as collective trademarks are quite different, especially when the geographic indications are not Chinese domestic ones. It takes a much longer time for the examiners to examine the case materials. However, through careful preparation of the filing documents and effective communication with the CTO, it only took about 6 months to get the two applications published and 9 months to obtain their registration.
Besides regular documents such as trademark application forms, the certificate concerning the legal status of the applicant, power of attorney and trademark samples, many special documents and certificates are required. These documents include:
- files and materials associated with the delineation of the areas marked by the geographic indication,
- the management regulations for using geographic identification in the form of collective marks,
- the evidence which proves that the applicant of the geographic indication is capable of supervising and inspecting the geographic indication,
- the statement which explains the association between the specific quality of the product covered by the geographic indication and the specific environmental and/or human factors,
- certificates proving that the geographic indication is protected by law in the country of origin in the name of the applicant and
- a list of the members of the applicant.
Because the protection mechanisms for geographic indications vary in different countries, it is nearly impossible for the right owners of foreign geographic indications to produce exactly those standard filing documents that are required by the CTO. It is not impossible, however, to overcome these difficulties. If the essence of the required documents can be well understood, it will be much easier to solve any technical problems in providing satisfactory documents to the CTO. For instance, the CIVC was created by a French law, so the certificate concerning its legal status is different from the Extrait Kbis of a normal French company. Therefore, it was necessary to provide a notarized and legalized copy of the relevant French laws and decrees that granted the CIVC the status of a legal person. Another issue was about the geographic delineation of the areas of Champagne. Because its geographic scope is described in different laws and decrees becoming effective in different years, it was essential to file a set of these laws and decrees and it was also necessary to make a summary of these legal documents in order to give the examiners a clearer picture about the scope. This greatly facilitated the examination of the application.
This registration commenced a new stage for the protection of Champagne as a geographic indication in China.
Before the registration, the administrative and judicial protection of the name Champagne and its Chinese transliteration was majorly based upon the concept of famous foreign place name as stipulated in the “Trademark Law” and the concept of unique name of a famous commodity as stipulate in the “Anti-Unfair Competition Law”. The successful registration of the collective trademarks will make it possible for future administrative raid actions, customs protection and civil litigations to be initiated on the ground of trademark infringement. It is also a good starting point for pushing forward the recognition of well-known trademark for Champagne in China.