Like most athletic brands and companies, the Asics four-stripe logo that dominates its sneaker designs is instantly recognizable. The company holds global trademarks for its distinctive logo, including in China. But in an odd turn of events, Chinese sportswear brand Qiaodan Sports Co. Ltd. was granted also granted a patent in the same category of goods for a near similar design.
Earlier this year Asics called for a reexamination and invalidation of Qiaodan’s trademark with the Department of the China National Intellectual Property Office (PRB), a request that this week was found successful. Some would argue the trademarking of logo designs with little differentiation from existing household brands is next level counterfeiting.
The PRB reasoned: “The patent in question is the design of sports shoes. The products used under the registered trademark include running shoes, football shoes, gym shoes and other products. Therefore, the types of products used by the two are the same. The two sides shown in the design patent in question have patterns composed of lines… Both are patterns formed by crossing horizontal and vertical lines. … The main difference between the two is: the patent involved has a single horizontal line, while the registered trademark has two horizontal lines. The panel believes that because the patent in question and the registered trademark have similar left-low-right-high, long horizontal lines and double short vertical lines intersecting the horizontal lines, and the overall pattern formed after the horizontal and vertical lines intersect has a similar visual effect, and the patent involved only reduces the number of horizontal lines of the registered trademark, which is a common design method, it is not enough to affect the similarity of the overall visual effect of the two, and it is easy for the relevant public to confuse the goods of the patent in question and the goods of the registered trademark owner.”
Image via the National Law Review