Last week we talked about the race to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to register the word “Linsanity” in reference to Jeremy Lin, the NBA’s latest breakout superstar. But who could have imagined that a similar race in China has already seemingly been won by a sports ball manufacturer?
Reuters reports that in July 2010, Wuxi Risheng Sports Utility Co, registered “‘Lin Shuhao (in Chinese characters) Jeremy S.H.L. (initials of Lin’s Chinese name)’ according to the website of the trademark office of China’s State Administration of Industry and Commerce.” The registration cost a little over $700 — but the return on that investment could be major if Lin and/or Nike (with whom Lin has signed a contract) decide it would be to their advantage to buy the trademark from Risheng.
China is a “first-to-file” country for purposes of trademark rights. In contrast, the U.S. is a “first-to-use” country: here, the first to use a trademark in commerce–not the first to file an application to register it–gets the rights. In China, it’s the other way around, with Chinese law favoring those who win “the race to the trademark office” whether they have actually used or intend to use a mark at all.
Horace Lam, Beijing-based intellectual property partner of global law firm Jones Day, is quoted at Reuters as saying, “This trademark will be difficult to take from Risheng because Risheng applied for these trademarks . . . for use in the same products that Nike sells: a wide array of athletic apparel and sports equipment.”
Lam estimates that the potential trademark purchase price could be in the millions.
As we’ve explained before:
Lin burst into the national spotlight on February 4, when he came of the bench in a game against the New Jersey Nets, scored 25 points, and dished out seven assists. He is the first Harvard University graduate to play in the NBA since the 1950s and is the first Chinese- or Taiwanese-American to play in the professional basketball league ever.
Are you feeling the Linsanity of all this or what?