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Court Finds for Expo in IPR Case

The Shanghai World Expo Bureau won its first intellectual property rights (IPR) lawsuit on Monday, filed against a local real estate company.


The Shanghai Honghui Real Estate Development Company was ordered to stop using the name, logo and slogan of the World Expo 2010 immediately, pay compensation of 400,000 yuan (US$48,000) and a fine of 50,000 yuan (US$6,000), and publish an apology in local newspapers.


Zhou Hanmin, deputy director of the bureau, said, "The defendant named one of its properties near the future Expo site 'Shibohui,' which has the same pronunciation as the Chinese words for 'World Expo.'"


Zhou also stated that the company's logo was similar to that of the expo, and that it used the Expo slogan, "Better City, Better Life," both in Chinese and English in flyers, on curtain walls on its construction site and on banners.


The bureau alleged that Honghui used these materials in order to profit from the Expo's name.


Honghui denies there was any violation.


"There is no similarity between its logo and that of World Expo 2010," said Lu Suqin, the lawyer representing Honghui. "Honghui got approval for the property name as early as February 2002, and it started sending out flyers with the slogan in September 2002. The bureau, however, did not register its slogan and name until February 2004."


Honghui also claimed the similar slogans were nothing more than a coincidence.


"We never attempted to gain profit from the reputation of the World Expo," said Ye Xiangqun, chief engineer at Honghui.


"The property was sold quickly because it is in a good location, and sold at comparatively low price."


Ye did not know whether an appeal would be filed.


The Shanghai No. 2 Intermediate People's Court held the first hearing on July 13 and announced its findings on Monday.


"The logo of the property bears an obvious resemblance to that of the Expo, which will easily confuse people or make people associate the property with the Expo," said the judge. He also found that Honghui's use of the slogan violated the copyright of the bureau and the name of the property created a false impression of association with the Expo.


"Although Honghui started using the name, the logo and the slogan before the bureau got them formally registered, they continued doing so after it did, which created the infringement," the judge said.


(China Daily December 14, 2004)

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