3M fends off 3LM on TM similarity

Regarding the registration of multiple "3LM" trademarks used on products such as sandpaper and abrasives, the US- based 3M Company was entangled into a number of trademark disputes with a Chinese manufacturer. Recently, according to the rulings published by the Beijing High People's Court, the "3LM" trademarks (trademarks in dispute), filed by Jiangsu Danyang Tianyu Hardware Abrasives Co., Ltd. (Danyang Tianyu Company) are similar trademarks with multiple "3M" trademarks (reference trademarks) used on the same or similar products, resulting in the revocation of the decision in favor of "3LM" registrations by the former Trademark Review and Adjudication Board of the State Administration for Industry and Commerce ( the former TRAB ).

Danyang Tianyu Company filed several applications featuring "3LM" for trademark registration in 2014 and would get the nod in 2015, certified to be used on multiple product categories such as sandpaper and abrasives. In 2017, 3M pled the former TRAB to nullify the trademarks in dispute, asserting their similarity with its own, infringement of its well-known mark "3M" and prior right of trade name. The TRAB found that "3LM" trademarks differed greatly with "3M" marks in word combination and calling, making them not similar marks used on the same or similar goods; the registration and use of the trademarks in dispute have not damaged 3M's previous trade name right. In this connection, the TRAB ruled in favor of the trademarks in dispute.

Disgruntled with the above- mentioned ruling, 3M brought the case to the Beijing IP Court. However, the company suffered another setback as it failed to win the support of the trial Court. 3M company went on to appeal at the Beijing High People's Court. Beijing High People's Court held that all the products on which the trademarks are certified to be used are highly overlapping with the reference marks in terms of product raw materials, production departments, functional use, consumer objects, sales channels, making them same or similar goods; the trademarks in dispute and the reference trademarks have a high degree of similarity in text composition, arrangement, calling and appearance. If they are used together on the same or similar products, it is easy for the public to believe that the related goods originated from the same entity or there is a specific association between the two entities, thus causing confusion and misidentification among the related public. To sum up, the appellant Court held that the trademarks in dispute and the reference trademarks constituted similar trademarks used on the same or similar products, revoking the decision of the trial Court as well as the ruling of the former TRAB.

(Source: China IP News)