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Sun, Aug 05, 2001 - Page 2 News List

P&G loses out on copyright case

TRADEMARK DISPUTE A battle over the rights to the Chinese name `sha hsuan' ended in victory for a local salon chain and in disappointment for the multinational


The Taiwan High Court recently rejected an appeal by Procter & Gamble (P&G, 寶鹼公司), manufacturer of Vidal Sassoon hair products, against a local beauty salon owner in a trademark dispute over the use of the product line's Chinese name sha hsuan (沙宣).

Affirming a ruling handed down by the Taipei District Court last December, the High Court determined last week that the US-based company's accusations against the owner of the Sassoon beauty salon chain in Taiwan were groundless.

P&G, which registered the Chinese name for its Sassoon products, sha hsuan, as its own trademark and service mark in 1993, was suing Chang Wen-liang (張文良), founder of a chain of beauty salons also named Sassoon sha hsuan in Taiwan.

Following the finalized verdict, in which the High Court affirmed the earlier ruling, the local beauty salon chain will be able to continue its operations without having to remove the sha hsuan name from its stores.

In its case against Chang, P&G contended that Chang had intentionally infringed on the rights of exclusive use of the foregoing trademark -- not only by frequently using the design of sha hsuan in marketing his goods and services, but also by authorizing many shops to use the disputed design as well.

The multinational corporation argued that it registered the design in 1993 and was thus entitled to the rights of exclusive use of the trademark in Taiwan.

In addition, it said that Chang has never registered sha hsuan as a trademark, instead using the design illegally for years.

P&G argued that the defendant's acts had confused consumers about the authenticity of its products and services. Aside from the criminal prosecution, the US company also requested NT$5 million in compensation.

In his defense, Chang said he established the business and used the disputed design as early as 1992 and subsequently developed a successful beauty salon chain around the country.

At the time when his salons were established, P&G had not even been known for the trademark, Chang said during the trial.

Last December the Taipei District Court found Chang not guilty of violating the Trademark Law on the grounds that Chang's use of the disputed design had begun earlier than P&G's registration of it as trademark.

Moreover, the court ruled that there was little concern over the confusion of the trademarks because Chang's business -- as a beauty care service provider -- was very different from that of P&G, a maker of retail products.

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