Facebook triumphant in trademark suit in China

Facebook has won a trademark suit against chinese beverages firm The Zhongshan Pearl River who had successfully registered the words “Face book” in China in 2014. Although Facebook had previously contested against the company’s registration in 2011 when the application was filed, their objections were not taken into account. However, a Beijing Court has now overruled the previous decision and agrees that The Zhongshan Pearl River has been using Facebook’s original trademark  to boost their own success.

This is a small victory for the social media giant since their website is currently blocked in China. However, founder Mark Zuckerberg has  been trying to sway China’s mind in favour of  his brand. He has had meetings with high-end chinese officials, is learning Mandarin and has even  submitted himself to the country’s high levels of pollution by going for a run in Beijing without a mask.

However, Facebook is not the only western company that is struggling to take hold in China. Apple recently lost a battle for the trademark “iPhone” to a chinese handbag company.  Chinese law states that for a company to be successful in their  trademark application they have to first prove that their brand already is well known in China, which makes it difficult for foreign companies to safely enter the market. Furthermore, in China it is generally the company that first used the brand name that owns rights to it. Some chinese companies have now taken to registering names of big foreign corporates in order to profit from them. When the corporate tries to enter the chinese market they would be forced to either fight for their rights in court, rebrand their product or give in and buy back their own trademark. So how can a social media giant like Facebook get around a problem like this? Maybe Mark Zuckerberg has got the right idea. Running through Beijing’s streets could be the answer.

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