WOWO, a Chinese-owned convenience store located inChengdu, registered a three-color stripe (orange, blue and white) logo astrademark in 2010, though it was already in use since 2005.
Two years after its registration, Thailand IP officefound that the logo was too similar to Thailand national flag and applied at theTrademark Office (TMO) for the cancellation of the trademark.
TMO agreed with Thailand IP Office's request anddecided to cancel the WOWO trademark on the grounds of similarity to Thailand nationalflag based on colours and design used. The decision of TMO has been laterconfirmed by the Trademark Review and Adjudication
However, the founder of WOWO, Tang Yaohua, decided tobring the case to Beijing No.1 Intermediate People's Court which recently heardthe case
According to his claim, his logo is only arepresentation of the spirit of the brand and the colours orange, blue andwhite are considered very popular in 24-hour stores’ business. Moreover, orangecolour is not present in Thailand flag and the position of the colours
inWOWO’s logo is different from the Thailand flag.
Besides, the decision made by TMO and TRAB did nottake into consideration the criterion of confusion. In fact for a trademark tobe considered similar to another, it is necessary that the similar one creates confusion amongthe public according to WOWO's attorney.
But in this case, in WOWO founder’s opinion, noconfusion is caused because Chinese customers are not familiar with Thailandnational flag. Moreover, the Court should consider the long term reputation andthe market practice before cancelling a registered trademark.
The judgement for this interesting case is expected inthe coming months.