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Sunday, 8 February 2004


Findlaw reports on a Chinese dispute involving the Starbucks coffee-shop chain and a local competitor. The US company is bringing an action against Shanghai Xiangbake, the owner of two outlets. Both use the same Chinese characters in their name: “xiang” meaning star and "bake" (bah-kuh), which is a phonetic rendition of "-bucks." Starbucks has expressed disappointment that the case could not be settled, but has expressed its determination to protect the value of its mark and to protect the public from confusion and deception. However, the Chinese company is fighting back and has claimed that its earlier company name, registered before Starbucks applied for the trade mark, trumps the US company’s trade mark.

The IPKat notes with interest the recent apparent surge in the number of news stories involving China and conflicts with local IP rights. This is set to continue as more multinationals enter the region. He also comments that, much to his unease, the balance to be struck between company names and trade marks is one that has given rise to different solutions in different jurisdictions.

Learn about the stars here, here and here
Chinese coffee here, here and here

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