On Dec. 5th, 2001, Zippo Manufacturing Company applied for registration of No. 3031916 trademark to the Trademark Office under the State Administration for Industry and Commerce of China (SAIC). The trademark involved was a 3D image certified to be used on Class 34 cigarette lighters commodities. After preliminary examination announcement, a Wenzhou based company Hengxing smoking and optical utensil and Wenzhou Smoking Utensil association separately submitted objection requisition. Then the Trademark Office made a decision to reject the application for the trademark application didn¡¯t conform to trademark law.
Both Hengxing and Zippo were not satisfied with the decision and requested a review to the Trademark Review and Adjudication Board (TRAB) under SAIC. TRAB made a decision to reject the trademark application. Zippo then filed a lawsuit against TRAB to Beijing No.1 Intermediate People's Court.
Zippo claimed that, the involved trademark had a distinguishing feature to be indications of source on goods; the long time of using of the image making it famous among the consumers. The third part of the lawsuit, Hengxing, believed that the trademark involved was a common shape of a smoke lighter, which could not be a connection of a certain brand for consumers.
The court held that, the image of the trademark involved was not the only shape of the smoke lighters in the market; while the square box, upper cover, hinge and rounded angles were shapes ¡°existing for achieving technical effect of the goods or enabling the goods to keep substantive value¡± according to the trademark law; over 100 companies in the market selling this kind of smoke lighters. Thus, the Court held that the image of the involved trademark didn¡¯t conform to the trademark law and rejected Zippo¡¯s lawsuit. (by Hu Biao)