【英语中国】中国体育用品公司两年前注册“林书豪”商标

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2012-2-23 18:59

小艾摘要: As attention focuses on the few who first saw potential in surprise basketball standout Jeremy Lin, a Chinese sportswear company has drawn local headlines for spotting his talent -- and taking out a t ...
As attention focuses on the few who first saw potential in surprise basketball standout Jeremy Lin, a Chinese sportswear company has drawn local headlines for spotting his talent -- and taking out a trademark on his Chinese name.

A Chinese maker of soccer balls and basketballs named Wuxi Risheng Sports Utility Co. applied for a trademark for Lin Shuhao in 2010, according to government records. That year, Mr. Lin graduated from Harvard University but was ignored during the NBA draft, leaving little indication that he would become a high-scoring starter for the New York Knicks as well as a global media darling.

The company also registered a variant of his English name, Jeremy S.H.L. It's unclear whether anyone in China has trademarked the English name 'Jeremy Lin' -- as of Wednesday evening the website of the trademark office of the State Administration for Industry and Commerce was failing to work properly.

Risheng Sports's owner, Yu Minjie, couldn't be reached for comment. Articles in the local media have quoted Ms. Yu as saying that she was intrigued by Mr. Lin at an early stage but that his rise to prominence was 'totally unexpected.'

According to a filing on SAIC's website, Risheng Sports registered the Lin trademark for a variety of uses, including balls, outfits, shoes, toys, gym facilities and ornaments. Other filings show Risheng Sports claims trademarks for other famous basketball players, including the Chinese name of Yi Jianlian, a Chinese center who now plays for the Dallas Mavericks, and also has a trademark on the Chinese name for 'Jordan's Kingdom' -- an apparent reference to former star Michael Jordan -- for use on balls.

Word of the company's claim, which surfaced this week in the Chinese media, comes as others plan to tap China's immense interest in Mr. Lin, who was born in the U.S. to Taiwanese parents. Earlier this week, sports apparel maker Adidas AG said it plans to roll out Lin jerseys across its network of 6,700 stores in China. The jerseys offer his name in English, so they wouldn't be likely to run afoul of Risheng Sports's trademark.

Should Mr. Lin or others want to mount a challenge over use of the Chinese name, they could face significant hurdles. As in many jurisdictions, China's trademark laws tends to favor early filers, said Stan Abrams, a professor at Beijing's Central University of Finance and Economics. Claiming ownership of a name can also be tricky because they can be shared by many people. 'Theoretically anybody can register a name, and generally whoever gets there first is going to get that right,' he said.

But the law provides some wiggle room for use by others, he notes, involving how the name is used or presented, or whether it includes a famous person's likeness.

Though Chinese intellectual property law has a reputation for weakness, an ongoing dispute involving Apple Inc. over the iPad name in China shows Chinese trademark law can become a major issue. Mr. Abrams said the problem tends to be with enforcement rather than the law itself.

Agence France-Presse/Getty Images2011年5月,祖籍浙江平湖的林书豪在平湖一所中学打了一场篮球友谊赛。
当人们都在关注是谁率先发现了篮球新星林书豪(Jeremy Lin)的潜力时,一家中国的运动服装公司成为中国媒体争相报道的头条,这家公司觉察到了林书豪的天赋,而且还注册了“林书豪”中文商标。

根据政府部门的记录,中国足球和篮球制造企业无锡日升体育用品有限公司(Wuxi Risheng Sports Utility Co.)在2010年申请注册了林书豪的商标。那一年,林书豪从哈佛大学毕业,但在NBA选秀中丝毫没有引起人们注意,几乎没有迹象表明他会成为纽约尼克斯队(New York Knicks)的得分手以及全球媒体的宠儿。

该公司还注册了林书豪英文名字的变体Jeremy S.H.L.的商标。目前还不清楚是否有人注册了林书豪的英文名“Jeremy Lin”的商标──截至周三晚间,中国国家工商行政管理总局商标局的网站还不能正常显示查询结果。

记者无法联系到日升体育的所有者虞敏洁置评。当地媒体的文章援引了虞敏洁的话报道说,林书豪早期的比赛吸引了她的注意,但他如今的惊人表现让她非常意外。

中国国家工商行政管理总局网站上的文件显示,日升体育在多个商品分类下注册了林书豪名字的商标,包括球类、运动装备、鞋、玩具、健身房设施和装饰品。其他的文件显示日升体育还注册了其他知名球星的商标,包括达拉斯小牛队(Dallas Mavericks)现役中国籍中锋易建联的中文名,此外,日升还注册了“乔丹王国”的球类产品中文商标,显而易见该商标指的是美国职业篮球联赛(NBA)球星乔丹。

本周中国媒体报道该公司注册林书豪商标的消息的同时,其他人正计划利用中国人对林书豪的极大关注获取利益。林书豪生于美国,父母为台湾人。本周早些时候,运动服装制造商阿迪达斯(Adidas AG)说,该公司计划在中国的6,700家门店销售林书豪的球衣。球衣上印着林书豪的英文名,所以应该不会对日升的商标产生侵权。

如果林书豪和其他人想要阻止他人使用自己的中文名字,会遇到很大的障碍。中央财经大学教授艾布拉姆斯(Stan Abrams)说,在许多案件中,中国的商标法保护的都是最早申请使用权的一方。对一个名称申报所有权的过程非常麻烦,因为这个名字可能被许多人同时使用。他说,理论上来说,任何人都可以注册任何名称,谁第一个注册谁就有对其拥有所有权。

他指出,但是法律为他人对一些名称的使用提供了一些余地,其中涉及名称使用或出现的方式,以及是否包含知名人士的肖像。

尽管中国知识产权法律的薄弱人所共知,目前正在上演的苹果公司(Apple Inc.)iPad商标权的纠纷显示,中国的商标法可以成为一个非常严重的问题。艾布拉姆斯说,问题往往出现在法律的执行环节,而不是法律本身。

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