Company fined $430,000 for MGM trademark infringement

Max penalty shows equal IPR protection for foreign firms

A Shenzhen company was ordered to pay 3 million yuan ($430,000) compensation each in two lawsuits filed by MGM Holdings for trademark infringement and unfair competition, a decision that prompted Chinese analysts to conclude Monday that China was showing equal legal treatment and enforcement of intellectual property rights (IPR) for Chinese and foreign firms. 

The court ruled the company should stop the infringement, publicly dismiss the impact and compensate the Hollywood conglomerate a total of 6 million yuan in two cases, the maximum amount each under law, said a statement issued by a court in Shanghai on Saturday. 

Shenzhen MGM Films Company in South China's Guangdong Province, was convicted of unfair competition and trademark infringement by registering domain names containing "mgm," using the name "MGM" and the lion logo owned by MGM Holdings, while also authorizing more than 30 theaters across the country to operate under the brand name and logo, according to the judge of the case. 

MGM Holdings has widely used and promoted the Metro Goldwyn Mayer (MGM) brand since its founding in 1924. 

The brand is known to Chinese people through such movie series as James Bond and the Hobbit, according to the court. 

"The result of the trial reflects the court's position in equally protecting the legal rights of Chinese and foreign enterprises," Judge Yang Jie who heard the case told the Global Times on Monday. 

Yang noted the court would not be inclined to domestic parties in such infringement disputes involving foreign enterprises. 

Chinese legal experts claim that Chinese people are showing an attitude of no favoritism toward domestic companies accused of infringement as people's awareness of intellectual property rights (IPR) has significantly improved. 

In November, the general offices of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and the State Council issued a directive calling for intensified protection of intellectual property rights, the Xinhua News Agency reported. 

"Strengthening IPR protection is the most important content of improving the IPR protection system and also the biggest incentive to boost China's economic competitiveness," reads the document, according to Xinhua. 

According to the document, by 2022, China will strive to effectively curb IPR infringement, and largely overcome challenges including high costs, low compensation and difficulties in providing evidence for safeguarding intellectual property rights, Xinhua said. 

Online polls found a majority of respondents supported the daughter of iconic Hong Kong kung fu icon Bruce Lee in her trademark dispute with Chinese mainland fast food chain Real Kung Fu. She is suing the company for using Lee's image for 15 years without authorization. 

(Source: Global Times)