Cheaper Design Protection in China

Often companies claim trademark protection abroad through the International Registration (the so called Madrid Treaty & protocol). There is a similar route for design protection, through the International design registration (The Hague Convention). There is a big difference between designs and trademarks however, a claim for protection can only be successfully made if a model is new (ie not after a few years). Recently China acceded to this treaty.


This is particularly important because, on the one hand many products are made in China, but on the other hand many products are sold B2B via online platforms such as Alibaba. To claim design protection in China, a registered design is actually quite essential, because copyright claims are very difficult (and expensive) to substantiate. So design protection can now be done much more cost effective. In addition to China, protection can also be applied for in 76 other countries via the International Model, including the entire European Union.


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IP quiz Trademarks

Puma is one of the bigger sports and lifestyle brands in the world. The core-business is the design, development and sale of (sports) shoes, (sports) clothing and accessories. In 1960, Puma registered an international trademark for a device designed in 1958: the formstrip. Since then, Puma has registered approximately 90 formstrip trademarks with validity in the Benelux or the European Union. Puma claims that this is a serial mark. Monshoe is a wholesaler of women's shoes and related products. The company designs and develops Monshoe shoes which it largely markets itself. Monshoe sells its women's shoes under the brands Shoecolate and Pearlz. The shoe Shoecolate is offered in various colour combinations. Puma claims that Monshoe infringes its well-known formstrip trademark. Monshoe contradicts this and states that the average consumer will not perceive the device of Monshoe on the sneakers as a trademark. And if the public will recognize a trademark in the decoration, it will not make the connection to Puma. According to Monshoe, the formstrip logo is not a well-known trademark within the meaning of the BVIE and the UMVo. There is no likelihood of confusion because the sign does not or hardly evoke any association with Puma among the public. In light of the above, who is right? Does this constitute decorative use or linking to a well-known trademark?