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31 Million RMB Fine Shows Dual Enforcement Mechanisms for Chinese Trademark Infringement

Beijing Creative Mackey Plus Information Consulting Co., Ltd. (北京创意麦奇佳偶信息咨询有限公司, hereinafter Mackey English) sued the Beijing Chaoyang District Market Supervision Administration (北京市朝阳区市场监督管理局) in the Chaoyang District People’s Court of Beijing for imposing a 31 million RMB fine (~$4.38 million USD) for trademark infringement and the Beijing Market Supervision Administration   (北京市市场监督管理局) for affirming the fine after already paying damages for infringement in a civil trial.  Under the Chinese trademark law, trademark infringers can be subject to both civil liability and administrative penalty.

According to Mackey English, the company  started using the “TutorABC” brand in Taiwan in 1998 and provided English training services. In 2004, it began to provide online English training services. In 2008, Mackey English entered mainland China under the “VIPABC” brand.  However, the Fengtai ABC School already registered a trademark for VIPABC and successfully sued Mackey English and was awarded 1 million RMB ($141,378 USD).  Further, Mackey English stopped using the VIPABC trademark and instead began using TUTORABC.

However, Fengtai ABC School also reported the infringement to Chaoyang Bureau in January 2017. The Chaoyang Bureau punished Mackey English with a 31 million RMB fine based on the determined illegal revenue during the infringement period. After the administrative review, the Beijing Municipal Market Supervision Administration maintained the original penalty decision.

During the trial on April 16, 2020, the Chaoyang Bureau argued that the infringement was malicious as Mackey English had applied for a trademark for VIPABC and was rejected in 2012 based on the mark at issue.  Nonetheless, Mackey English continued advertising, including celebrity endorsements.

A decision has not yet been released.

31 Million RMB Administrative Penalty Decision
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Author:
Director of China Intellectual Property Practice

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