Reader's Digest takes TRAB to court

Reader’s Digest sought to register the trademark READER'S DIGEST TRUSTED BRAND VOTED BY CONSUMERS (in Chinese) and the corresponding device for goods and services including printed publications, market research and surveys, and hosting of awards relating to brands in Classes 16, 35 and 41. The applications were rejected by the Trademark Office, so Reader’s Digest filed a review application with the Trademark Review and Adjudication Board (TRAB). The board upheld the Trademark Office's decision and rejected the applications on the ground that the words "trusted brand" (in Chinese), being the essential feature of the trademark, were laudatory of the goods/services for which the trademark was or was intended to be used and would likely create a misconception among the public. Such registration is contrary to Article 10(1)(viii) of the Trademark Law as being a mark detrimental to socialist morals or customs or having undesirable influences.

Dissatisfied with the decisions, Reader’s Digest has lodged an appeal with the Beijing First Intermediate Peoples’ Court, asking the court to set aside the TRAB's decision. Reader’s Digest claims that:

  • The words “trusted brand", together with the phrase “voted by consumers”, are only descriptive elements in the trademark and the essential feature of the mark lies in the words “Reader’s Digest”.
  • The mark is to be used in relation to an annual survey conducted by Reader’s Digest to reflect consumers’ choice of their most trusted and favourite brands across a range of consumer product categories.
  • The trademark is a composite mark and none of the elements in the trademark are harmful to socialist morals or customs, nor would they create an adverse impact on social interest or the public order.

The court is considering the appeal and a decision is awaited.

This is an Insight article, written by a selected partner as part of IAM's co-published content. Read more on Insight

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