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CHINA: Starbucks wins China court case over trademark

by Geoffrey A. FowlerThe Wall Street Journal
January 3rd, 2006

In a legal step forward for international brands doing business in China, a Shanghai court ruled in favor of Starbucks Corp. in a battle with a local competitor over the use of the same Chinese name.

The court Saturday found that Shanghai Xing Ba Ke Coffee Shop was infringing on Starbucks' trademark rights by using a variation of the green Starbucks logo and the name Xing Ba Ke, a transliteration of Starbucks in Chinese characters. In Chinese, xing -- pronounced "shing" -- means star, and ba ke sounds like bucks.

"Starbucks is very respectful of the court's decision, as it demonstrates the importance of protecting the value and ownership rights of intellectual property in greater China, including well-known global brands like Starbucks," said Christine Day, Starbucks' Asia-Pacific president, yesterday.

At issue in the case was whether Starbucks and its Chinese name Xing Ba Ke were "well-known trademarks," which receive special protection in Chinese courts. Starbucks sued Xing Ba Ke in December of 2003.

The Shanghai No. 2 Intermediate People's Court ordered Shanghai Xing Ba Ke to pay Starbucks compensation of 500,000 yuan ($62,000), according to the official China Daily newspaper yesterday.

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