Bike-Sharing Giant Ofo has been accused by a small Chinese software company, Shu Ren Smart Technology Co. Ltd, of infringing its intellectual property in the trademark ‘Xiao Huang Che’.
Ofo’s bikes which are famous in China and a host of other international cities are known for their bright yellow colors.
Shu Ren Smart Technology registered the trademark, Xiao Huang Che “little yellow bikes” in September 2016 for a software-related product. It appears Ofo did not realize this when they adopted the mark in May 2017 as part of their official name.
Ofo was launched in 2014, they were officially known as “Ofo Shared Bikes” — but their millennial clients soon began referring to them affectionately as “little yellow bikes” because of their distinctive color scheme. On May 17, the company decided to officially adopt the name “Ofo Little Yellow Bikes” to forge a stronger bond with their customers, and began incorporating the phrase in their advertisements and on their official mobile app.
Beijing’s Haidian District People’s Court began hearing the case on Monday, Ofo’s chief public relations officer, Shi Shaochen, said the company’s legal department had not received any “relevant files” regarding the case. He added that there is no infringement whatsoever.
“According to China’s trademark law, a party will be held responsible if they use a trademark without the holder’s consent and cause confusion among consumers,” Han Xiao, a lawyer at Beijing Kangda Law Firm, told Sixth Tone. “In this case, the law favors the party that’s first to register the trademark rather than the party that’s first to use it.”
“Unless Ofo can prove they had already achieved a certain degree of popularity from the ‘little yellow bike’ nickname before July 29, 2015, when the software company applied for the trademark, it will probably be ruled a case of infringement,” said the lawyer, Han.
Shu Ren Smart Technology is seeking 3 million yuan ($446,000) in damages for the alleged infringement.
The case is currently pending.
Source: Sixth Tone