US Firms Support Beijing Intermediate Court's Decision against Cybersquatting

The INTA submitted a letter cum amicus brief to the People's Supreme Court this week inChina's first anti-cybersquatting case.  The brief, prepared by Wang andWang,reviewsthecurrent world status of domain name disputes and protection afforded to famous trademarks registered as domain names.  In meetings in Beijing, I have arranged with the Supreme Court to accept the brief and pass it down to the Beijing High Court.

The international trademark community expects that the Beijing High Court will uphold the decision of the Beijing Intermediate Court, which found that Beijing Cinet's registration of Ikea.com.cn should be cancelled on the grounds that its registration was an act of unfair competition and was committed in bad faith.  The High Court found that Ikea's operation of two superstores in China was sufficient to establish fame and bad faith on the part of Beijing Cinet.  Cinet has registered about 2,500 domain names, of which a large number are identical to the trademarks of foreign companies.  China's domain name authorities will not cancel Cinet's registrations unless ordered by a Chinese court to do so, and only on a case by case basis.  Dupont has recently brought action against Cinet, as has Proctor and Gamble.  If you are interested in knowing whether any of your trademarks have been registered by Cinet, and whether you have a good chance to cancel Cinet's registration, please let me know by email.

New Rules Prepared to Regulate Foreign Direct Investment

To prepare for its pending WTO membership, China is revising laws and rules relating to foreign trade and economic cooperation, trying to establish a more transparent legal system.   Among them is the revisions of the three laws governing Foreign Direct Investment in China, i.e., the Law on Sino-Foreign Equity Joint Ventures, the Law on Sino-Foreign Cooperative Joint Ventures, and the Law on Foreign Invested Enterprises.  The revisions have been drafted and sent to the State Council for approval, but will need to be approved bythe National People's Congress before they become law.

Computer Software Copyright Registration Accelerated

China recently amended the 1991 Measures for Registration of Computer Software Copyright to simplify the registration.  Now only one copy, instead of two copies as required under the old law, of the required certifying documents is needed.  More importantly, the original 120 days for the Software Registration Center to approve applications has been shortened to 60 days.  The Software Registration Center will establish local offices in certain provinces for registrants' convenience.

Foreign Insurance Companies Shut Down

The Beijing representative offices of three foreign insurance companies were closed by the China Insurance Regulatory Committee because the foreign companies had moved their offices without proper registration, and had not submitted their annual work report.  The action demonstrates that China's regulatory authorities intend to enforce the regulations and not allow foreign companies to avoid the regulatory requirements.  Generally, such a severe penalty as revoking a license is not enforced without considerable warning and even negotiation beforehand.

New Internet Information Service Regulation

The State Council promulgated a new regulation on Internet information services in September 2000, effective immediately. The Measures for Regulation of Internet Information Services requires that commercial providers must register with the Ministry of Information Industry. The measures do not prohibit foreign invested enterprises from providing information on the Internet, but defer that issue to other regulations. The

Measures also state that relevant agencies shall have the power to approve activities by Internet information providers in other fields, such as news, education, medicine, etc.

In addition, Bulletin Board Service must record the release date of all content posted, and Internet Service Providers must record the identity of all visitors to a site. Such identification must include the users' phone number, Internet address, and must be kept on file for 60 days for investigation by relevant agencies. These Regulations are additional to over fifteen other rules, measures and regulations issued by various ministries and agencies governing the Internet.

Ordinance on Telecommunications

On September 20, 2000, the State Council issued an Ordinance on Telecommunications which applies only to domestic and domestically invested entities in the telecommunications field, and covers such issues as market admittance, network interlinks, charges, resources, services, construction and safety. The Minister of Information Industry announced that regulations on foreign invested entities will be promulgated before China joins the WTO.

New Customs Law

On July 8, 2000, the National People's Congress passed a new Customs Law, covering such issues as enforcement against counterfeit goods, etc. In practice, however, there will be little if any effect, as the revisions merely formalize Measures previously ordered by the State Council, and therefore already in effect.