New Hope for Protecting Chinese Translations of International Trademarks in China

By Min Wu

Foreign companies often fail to register the Chinese translations of their international trademarks in China, and competitors often piggy-back on their reputation by registering and using the translated Chinese trademarks. Chinese courts are traditionally reluctant to hold that the Chinese translations are “similar” to the registered trademarks in foreign languages, and the international trademarks holders cannot succeed in a trademark infringement proceeding.

As reported by, a recent Leroy-Somer case might give hope to the protection of the Chinese translations of international trademarks. In that case, the Superior People’s Court in Fujian Province confirmed the similarity between “LEROY-SOMER” and its Chinese translation “利莱森玛.” Selecting the Leroy-Somer case as a model case for intellectual property protection, the Supreme People’s Court noted that “the famous nature of the foreign language trademarks, the Plaintiff’s prior use of the Chinese translation version, and public recognition of the corresponding relationship between the foreign language trademarks and its Chinese language translation” are factors that favors a finding of similarity.



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