Chinese company registers the trademark ”Michael Jackson” – breaks the law

 In China, Chinese trademark law, Counterfeit, Court decision, Infringement, Intellectual Property, Trademark, Trademark law

The Beijing Intellectual Property Court judged that a China’s fashion company acted illegally when it registered the name of Michael Jackson as a Chinese trademark earlier this November.

Triumph International, Inc., a wholly-owned merchandise licensing company owned by the estate of Michael Jackson, filed a complaint against the Chinese company for registering “Michael Jackson” as a trademark for their apparel company with the response that “Michael Jackson” is just a name and has nothing to do with the pop star. Evidence show that the Chinese company had sold products with images of Michael Jackson, using his likeness for economic gain.

The Trademark Review & Adjudication Board decided that, even though the singer had previous rights, since he is dead, the subject of protection does not longer exist resulting in approved continuous usage of the trademark name by the Chinese company.

Triumph International, Inc. was not happy about the decision and filed a suit with the Beijing Intellectual Property Court, seeking reversal of the Board’s decision.

It was argued in court that Michael Jackson could not enjoy the rights to his name because he is dead, which lead to Triumph International, Inc. not having enough legal grounds to sue on his behalf. The court however decided that Triumph’s evidence that the Chinese company, using Michael Jackson’s images and likeness for economic gain, was misleading public into thinking the products were licensed by Michael himself or with his company. Even though Michael Jackson has been dead since 2009, it was argued that his name and likeness still have a great substantial economic value resulting in the court, revoking the board’s decision to review and make a new decision based on Triumph’s appeal.

Did you find this article interesting? Read about a similar case regarding the famous shoe brand and basketball star Michael Jordan in his trademark battle with a Chinese company here.

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