Facebook Wins Trademark Case In China Over Chinese Beverage Company

from the book-it dept

You should be aware by now that Facebook has taken a rather extreme stance when it comes to protecting its trademark. This stance has essentially evolved to consist of this: it will dispute pretty much anything else on the internet that has the word "book" in it. Examples include Designbook, Lamebook, and Teachbook. And, because trademark bullying isn't something that should be done half-way, the company also disputed the name of Faceporn, because why the hell not?

This has continued to this day, which is not news worthy. But what is news worthy is when Facebook gets one of these wins in a trademark dispute in China, where trademark disputes haven't typically gone the way American companies would wish.

A Chinese company has been told it can no longer use the words face book in its branding, in a rare favorable court ruling for a U.S. company that comes after extensive efforts by Facebook to court Chinese officials. The Wall Street Journal reports that the Beijing Higher People's Court announced it had revoked approval for Zhujiang Beverage — which makes flavored milk drinks and porridge — to use the name.
Adding to the interesting nature in this ruling is Zhujiang's assertion that the Chinese translation of "face book", which is "lian shu", is something of a cultural term in China, referring to masks that are traditionally worn in Chinese operas. These appear to be some examples of this, though there is a confusing number of terms that all seem to refer to variations of these operatic masks and garbs. What seems to be taking everyone by surprise in this case is that the Chinese court sided with Facebook over a Chinese company, despite what looks to be a fairly severe deviation in the industries in which either side is engaged. Facebook is famous worldwide, enough so that perhaps one could argue that use of the term in other industries would still draw confusion and attention back to the social media site.

Except that Facebook is still banned on the Chinese mainland by the ruling party.
The social network remains blocked to Internet users in the Chinese Communist Party–ruled nation, but founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has made efforts to ingratiate himself with Chinese officials, including by recently braving the notorious Beijing smog to take a run in front of the gates of the Forbidden City.
Meaning that perhaps the ban on the site is going to be lifted soon. If not, you would expect the Chinese government to reverse the court's ruling, protecting a Chinese company doing business on the mainland over an American company and its banned product. Still, it's hard to see if there is any real confusion to consider here under the present circumstances, but that might not matter in China the way it matters in America.

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Filed Under: china, face book, lian shu, trademark
Companies: facebook


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