In China, E-One UK's trade mark portfolio does not include Peppa Pig or class 11 trademarks (for table lamps). On September 30, 2018, E-One UK filed a class 11 trade mark application for the term "PEPPA PIG" (no 33849640). It was, however, under preliminary evaluation and did not become public until September 27, 2019; its implementation in class 11 began in 2020.
As a result, when E-One UK filed a complaint in Shanghai IP Court on September 20, 2019, it had no clear trademark foundation to use against the defendants.
According to Tian Lu, PhD candidate in intellectual property law, Maastricht University in the Netherlands, it has only be recognized now because Entertainment One UK Limited filed a trade mark infringement case to the Shanghai IP Court, which triggered the necessity for the court to evaluate whether or not the trade mark at issue was indeed a well-known mark.
“This shows that collecting and submitting sufficient evidence is of paramount importance in well-known mark-related litigations,” she says. “It is possible to achieve the status of a well-known mark in China for the foreign trade marks. This will reduce the infringements accordingly.”
For anyone waiting for their trademark rights, what can a brand learn from this trademark issue with Peppa Pig?
“For right holders: Being recognised as a well-known mark grants the extended cross-class scope of trade mark protection,” she says. “Meanwhile, let’s not forget the importance of timely filing trade mark applications in those foreign countries where the “first-to-file (trade mark rights)” system operates. Overseas IPR protection should be more proactive. For infringers: This case has a warning effect on infringement.”