November 28, 2023


Rich Inside You

Trademark Similarity Throughout Languages – Harris Bricken Sliwoski LLP

3 min read

Trademark similarity is the most typical cause for emblems to be denied registration. That is true in each China and the U.S. And guess what, your trademark may very well be thought of much like one in a special language, together with Chinese language.

If the that means of a Chinese language trademark and an English (or different non-Chinese language) trademark is similar, China Nationwide Mental Property Administration (CNIPA) trademark examiners are directed to seek out that trademark similarity exists. One instance given within the CNIPA examination tips as an instance this are the marks 红&黑 and ROUGE ET NOIR. The that means of each is “pink and black”.

However, if the that means of the marks is totally different, the truth that they might sound alike doesn’t give rise to trademark similarity. An instance given within the examination tips is the marks 福达 and FUDA. In pinyin, China’s official romanization system, 福达 is transliterated as fuda. Nevertheless, in instances like this, the CNIPA examination tips present that no trademark similarity exists.

Understanding Linguistic Nuances and Pronunciation

At first look, this would possibly look like a recipe for confusion, with two registered marks having the identical pronunciation. However do they actually? Greedy these linguistic nuances is important; emblems that sound related would possibly confuse customers, diluting a model’s distinctiveness and doubtlessly resulting in misplaced gross sales or authorized disputes. Understanding how pronunciation varies throughout totally different dialects will help manufacturers strategically select names that stand out clearly of their goal markets.

Mandarin, China’s official language, has a typical pronunciation and transliteration into the Latin alphabet. However there are hundreds of thousands of individuals in China who don’t converse Mandarin, and lots of of hundreds of thousands that talk each Mandarin and a number of different Chinese language languages, comparable to Cantonese. The mark HOLOK wouldn’t sound like something recognizable to a Mandarin-speaker, however for the greater than 100 million Cantonese-speakers it will sound like 可乐, which is slang for Coca-Cola. In contrast, the Mandarin pronunciation of 可乐 is usually transliterated as kele.

This strategy is usually in keeping with the American one. USPTO is not going to contemplate FUDA and 福达 to be confusingly related, though it’d contemplate FUDA to be confusingly much like FOODA. Nevertheless, USPTO does require an software for a mark in Chinese language (or different non-Latin script) to determine the that means of the mark. Below the doctrine of foreign equivalents, chance of confusion can exist between an English-language mark and a non-English one whose meanings are related. Instances cited by USPTO in its Trademark Handbook of Inspecting Process (TMEP) embody In re Am. Security Razor Co., 2 USPQ2d 1459 (TTAB 1987), which discovered the trademark similarity existed between BUENOS DIAS and GOOD MORNING. In one other case, In re Hub Distrib., Inc., 218 USPQ 284 (TTAB 1983), it was held that EL SOL and SUN are confusingly related.

Strategizing for the Chinese language Market

When crafting a China trademark technique, manufacturers want to contemplate whether or not their foreign-language emblems have an analogous that means to a registered trademark (or one for which a registration software is pending) in Chinese language. Chinese language marks that merely sound like theirs, nonetheless, are unlikely to current an issue.

Logos are the guts of a model’s identification, and understanding how emblems work throughout totally different nations, like China and the U.S., is essential. For companies aiming to make a worldwide influence, defending that identification via good trademark methods is a should. All the time bear in mind: a robust model is a protected model.


Manufacturers seeking to enter and thrive within the Chinese language market ought to do the next to guage Chinese language and English language emblems:

  1. Seek the advice of bilingual trademark attorneys who perceive linguistic and authorized nuances. Delicate however important points can emerge in translating and transliterating between writing programs. Specialists can spot potential pink flags upfront.
  2. Do complete trademark searches in each English and Chinese language.
  3. Develop your Chinese language emblems purposefully, not simply through translation. Shifting past direct translation permits customization of sturdy Chinese language marks that embody your model’s essence whereas minimizing battle with present marks.

By following these finest practices, you may craft your Chinese language model identities and emblems to maximise enforceability and model safety in a cross-linguistic authorized atmosphere.

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