Red Bull Series Trademark Sentenced to Thailand Tencel -- Red Bull China may apply for Retrial


On December 21, 2020, the Supreme Peoples Court made a final judgment, dismissed Red Bull Vitamin Beverage Co., Ltd. related to the claim of ownership of Red Bull series trademark rights, maintaining the original judgment in the first instance against Red Bull China own the legal rights and interests of the owner of the Red Bull series of trademarks in accordance with the law, and the result of the "not supported" judgment, and determined the facts that the Red Bull series trademarks belong to TCPhanna-ceutical Industries Co., Ltd. (hereinafter referred to as Thai Tencel).


The above-mentioned final judgment immediately triggered a strong backlash from Red Bull China. Red Bull China will use all possible legal remedies, including applications for retrial and protests, to protect its legitimate rights and interests in accordance with the law.


It is worth noting that the clear outcome of core legal disputes about Red Bull China's shareholder identification, company dividends and company duration has not yet appeared, and the final judgment of the Second International Commercial Tribunal of the Supreme People's Court is still pending.


Red Bull Trademark Sentenced to Thailand Tencel in Final Trial


Originating from shareholders opposition to dividends, and evolving into legal disputes over the trademark authorization period and the legality of joint venture operations, the century war of shareholders surrounding Red Bull Vitamin Functional Drink has lasted for more than five years. In this round of litigation, the core dispute points to the Red Bull series of trademarks ownership.


According to Red Bull Chinas grounds for the lawsuit and appeal, it requested the Court to confirm that it has the legal rights of the owner of the "Red Bull series trademarks". If this cannot be assured, it confirms that the "Red Bull series trademarks" are jointly owned by Red Bull China and Thailand Tencel.


However, from the point of view of Thai Tencel, as the founding inventor of Red Bull Beverage, it has always independently controlled the ownership of the Red Bull series of trademarks, and Red Bull China was only authorized to use it during the previous contract period.


In 2018, after the Beijing Higher People's Court rejected Red Bull Chinas relevant request in the initial trial ((2018) Jingminchu No. 166), Red Bull China refused to accept it and appealed to the Supreme Court. In April 2020, the Supreme Peoples Court filed this case and formed a collegiate panel to hear it publicly.


In the end, the Supreme Peoples Court rejected Red Bull China's appeal request in the final trial and affirmed the fact that the Red Bull series trademarks belonged to Tencel Thailand.


The verdict showed that the provision of Red Bull Beverage formula, craftsmanship, and trademarks provided by Thai Tencel is a "licensed use" rather than "transferred." In addition, since the trademark is provided together with the formula, technical process and other intellectual property rights, it should be explained in accordance with the same principles and standards-the provider of the technical formula, that is, Thailand Tencel still retains the right to control the technology and formula. It also retains the right to control the trademark.


From the perspective of both parties performance, since Thailand Tencel and China Red Bull signed multiple trademark licensing contracts for the trademarks involved from 1996 to 2016, there are clear clauses in the contracts confirming Thailand Tencels rights to register trademarks. Red Bull China paid the trademark license fee on time as agreed. The above evidence is sufficient to prove that the license contract has been fully and effectively performed.


The judgment also mentioned that in the twenty years trademark licensing relationship between Red Bull China and Tencel Thailand, Red Bull China did not raise any objections to the ownership of the trademark rights, but repeatedly made guarantees to respect the trademark rights of Tencel Thailand. In addition, Red Bull China has not only defended its rights in the name of the trademark user, but also filed a trademark license use contract lawsuit with the Peoples Court in the name of Thai Tencel as the defendant.


In response, the Supreme Peoples Court determined that there had been a long-term licensing relationship between Thailand Tencel and Red Bull China regarding the trademark involved. Therefore, Red Bull China claimed that the relevant trademarks belong to them, lacking a factual and legal basis, and the Supreme Peoples Court did not support it. The Court of first instance found that the two parties had a licensing relationship toward the trademarks involved and were not improper.


In terms of the first-instance procedure, the Supreme Peoples Court determined that Red Bull Chinas litigation claims neither had a change quantitatively nor a substantial change in the legal relationship, and did not constitute a change in the Civil Procedure Law. Therefore, Red Bull Chinas relevant appeal claims cannot be established, and the Supreme Peoples Court also does not support it and rejects it.

Source: China IP Today