Why 'Game Developers Conference' Cannot be Registered as a Trademark in China

BEIJING, April 13 /PRNewswire-Asia/ -- The recent dispute concerning the intellectual property right of "Game Developers Conference" between CGDC and Think Services has hit the headlines in the game industry. Also, following our last news release, "CGDC Protecting Its Own IP Together With CGPA and All Its Members" ( http://www.chinagdc.com.cn/en/news_show.asp?id=164 ), CGPA's legal team found out that Think Services filed a claim to register "Game Developers Conference" in China in 2008. In the light of this, Howell International Trade Fair Ltd., on behalf of the Organizing Committee of CGDC, would like to brief on the relevant provisions in China's trademark law, specifically why "Game Developers Conference" cannot be registered as a trademark in this country.

As stipulated in Article 3 of the Implementation Regulations for the Trademark Law of the People's Republic of China (promulgated on Sept. 15, 2002), "The use of trademarks referred to in the Trademark Law and these Regulations include, among other things, the use of trademarks on goods, packages or containers thereof and commodity trading instruments, or use of trademarks in advertisements, exhibitions and other commercial activities". Article 12 provides that "Where an application is filed for international registration, it shall be done in accordance with the relevant international treaties to which China has acceded. The specific measures shall be prescribed by the administrative department for industry and commerce under the State Council".

In other words, if an individual or organization, no matter which country they are from, is to apply for the trademark registration of "Game Developers Conference" in China, examination and approval shall be made by the country's administration of industry and commerce.

However, it is stipulated in the revised Article 11 of the Trademark Law of the People's Republic of China (please refer to Decision concerning Amending the Trademark Law of the People's Republic of China adopted by the 24th meeting of the Standing Committee of the 9th NPC on Oct. 27, 2001), that the following signs or symbols are not to be registered as trademark:

    1. bearing only the generic name, figure or model of the commodity;
    2. reflecting only the quality, main materials, function, use, weight,
       quantity or other features of the commodity;
    3. without distinctive features.

    The legal consultant of the Organizing Committee of the CGDC explains that:

A) bearing only the generic name, figure or model of the commodity

The generic name, figure and model of the commodity is always widely recognized and used in the industry, some of which describe the common features of this commodity as against others. Therefore, no company may exclusively hold a sign or symbol like this and register it as its own trademark, or else it will greatly impair the interests of other companies in the same industry, and in turn the principle of fair competition. It is also important to note that for signs or symbols like this, even if they are registered at the authorities, the trademark holder may not forbid others to use them on products of the same type, as after all they are "public property".

B) reflecting only the quality, main materials, function, use, weight, quantity or other features of the product

The reason for this is the same as A as explained above.

C) without distinctive features

A distinctive feature is a positive condition for trademark application. Without a distinctive feature, the commodity will not be identifiable, thus not to be registered as a trademark. However, if the connection between the proposed trademark and commodity gradually builds up over time and the sign or symbol becomes readily identifiable, it will be approved as a registered trademark.

As for "Game Developers Conference", it is an expression that is generally used in the industry and, according to the above provisions, will hardly make a trademark; this is perhaps why all applications from Think Services have been rejected by the Trademark Office of State Administration for Industry and Commerce of P.R. China. In fact, as detailed in Article 3, "Game Developers Conference" does not have "distinctive features" and is not distinguishable: all meetings or conferences concerning game development, whoever the holder is, can be named after this. Even if an application is approved and "Game Developers Conference" becomes a registered trademark, it does not mean that the industry can no longer use it.

As analyzed above, we firmly believe that the recent attack on CGDC by Think Services is invalid and groundless, as all the conferences held in China by or for game developers can use the name "Game Developers Conference". And this brings us to a confident conclusion that this has caused confusion and stopped the industry from getting to know about the objectives and goals of CGDC. In fact, we also believe that defamatory comments made by Think Services, under the cover of "protecting intellectual property rights", and in relation to the CGDC organizer, the trade association and other events have already amounted to a violation of Chinese laws, and as such, the trade association is now getting ready to protect its own interests.

Meanwhile, the CGDC organizers will, through its Department of Legal Affairs, do investigations on the trademark registration of Think Services in foreign countries. We have to know the truth and would never be taken in by any misleading information.

Call for Paper of CGDC has now started

Papers should apply with the conference topics;

1) For topics, please download the conference program at http://www.chinagdc.com.cn/2009down/CGDC-program-en.pdf ;

2) To meet with our advisory board member, please visit http://www.chinagdc.com.cn/en/hy_gwt.asp?PID=1

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     Email: cecillia_cao@howellexpo.com

    For media cooperation, please contact:

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     Email: joycalvin@howellexpo.com

Web site: http://www.chinagdc.com.cn/en/

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