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Wyeth Wins 30.55 Million RMB in Chinese Trademark Infringement Case with Punitive Damages

Wyeth LLC (“U.S. Wyeth”) , a global leader in infant milk powder, sued Guangzhou Wyeth Baby Maternal and Infant Products Co., Ltd. (广州惠氏宝贝母婴用品有限公司) (“Guangzhou Wyeth”) for trademark infringement and unfair competition in Hangzhou Intermediate Court and was awarded 30.55 Million RMB (~$4.7 million USD) in damages per a decision released January 6, 2021. Guangzhou Wyeth must also stop using Wyeth and 惠氏 (a transliteration of Wyeth) in production and sales of products for infant bathing, skin care, feeding, laundry, diapers, mosquito repellent wipes, adult care and pregnancy products, product packaging, advertising and other commercial activities.

U.S. Wyeth on left vs. Guangzhou Wyeth on right.

The Hangzhou Intermediate Court determined that the Guangzhou Wyeth and co-defendants used the marks “Wyeth”, “Wyeth”(Chinese) and “Wyeth Little Lion” on the infringing products, product packaging and brochures they produced and sold, and carried out publicity on the website. This constitutes the use of trademarks that are the same as or similar to Wyeth’s registered trademarks on similar goods, which easily confuses the relevant public about the source of the goods and infringes on the exclusive rights of Wyeth’s  registered trademarks. Co-defendant Qingdao Wyeth’s use of “Wyeth” in its corporate name constitutes unfair competition.

In terms of the amount of compensation, the Hangzhou Intermediate People’s Court took into account that the plaintiff’s trademark reputation was high, the defendant’s malicious infringement of Wyeth’s goodwill and brand name was obvious, the defendant’s infringement lasted for a long time, involved a wide area, and the scale of infringement was serious. The products involved in the case are related to factors such as the health and safety of infants and young children and therefore punitive damages was appropriate.

The Court said in a WeChat post,

The punitive damages system is an important part of my country’s deepening of reform and innovation in the field of intellectual property adjudication, improving the intellectual property litigation system, and strengthening the protection of intellectual property rights. Article 63 of the “Trademark Law” stipulates: “For malicious infringement of trademark exclusive rights, punitive damages may be applied if the circumstances are serious.” … Through the application of the punitive damages system, malicious infringement of intellectual property rights can be effectively combated, honest operations are encouraged, intellectual property rights are protected, and the legal business environment is optimized.

The full text of the opinion is available here: 判决书 (Chinese only).

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Author:
Director of China Intellectual Property Practice

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