LehmanBrown Trademark Dispute Concluded: Edward Lehman Victorious against Russell Brown, Chair of British Chamber of Commerce in China, in Final Ruling of Chinese People's Courts
BEIJING, Sept. 4, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- In a critical ruling of the Higher People's Court of Beijing, on April 25th, 2013, to bring to conclusion the long-drawn LehmanBrown trademark dispute, the Court concluded that Edward Lehman (who had been previously awarded 1.4 million USD, in court costs and legal fees, by the shareholders Russell Brown and his wife Zhou Han Brown, in Hong Kong Courts) both lawfully registered the trademark "LehmanBrown" and assigned the trademark to Home & Garden Limited (hereinafter "HGL"). All appeals brought and all evidence presented by Russell Brown and Zhou Han Brown, since March 2008, have been completely rebutted and found by Chinese People's Courts as without merit or legal basis under Chinese Trademark laws, regulations, and policies.
In 2008, Russell Brown and his wife, Zhou Han Brown, as shareholders of a Hong Kong company, brought an action at the China Trademark Office declaring they had a right to the Trademark "LehmanBrown." This action was rejected by the China Trademark Office. Later, Russell Brown, who now serves as Chairman of the British Chamber of Commerce in China together with his wife filed an appeal with the Trademark Review and Adjudication Board (hereinafter "TRAB"). On March 1, 2010 the TRAB issued two crucial verdicts (No.: SPZ (2010) No. 04597 and No. SPZ (2010) No. 04598), in response to the "LehmanBrown" trademark dispute, maintaining that the "LehmanBrown" trademarks (Trademark No. 3013120 and Trademark No. 3013121) were lawfully registered by Edward Lehman with the Trademark Office of the State Administration of Industry and Commerce on November 7, 2001 and lawfully assigned to HGL on April 10, 2003.
Prior to March 1, 2010, Russell Brown, as Legal Representative and his wife, Zhou Han Brown, as entrusted agent of the Hong Kong company, filed an application to the TRAB for ruling against the disputed "LehmanBrown" trademark. The consequential TRAB verdicts (No. 04597 and No. 04598) revoked Mr. and Mrs. Browns' claims. Yet, they subsequently brought administrative litigation against both verdicts to the First Intermediate People's Court of Beijing.
The First Intermediate People's Court of Beijing, after reviewing all the evidence, delivered the judgment (No.: (2011) Y.Z.Z.H.C.Zi No. 366) that, verdicts No. 04597 and No. 04598 made by TRAB were sustained due to the facts that:
"No order of trademark registration was disrupted, and no public interest was damaged;" "the evidence presented cannot prove that the disputed trademark has belonged to [the Hong Kong Company controlled by Mr. and Mrs. Brown];" and "the evidence presented by [Mr. and Mrs. Brown's Hong Kong Company] cannot prove that the registration of the disputed trademark violated the Trademark Law."
Unsatisfied with this judgment, delivered by a second authoritative body and in agreement with the TRAB, Mr. and Mrs. Brown appealed to the Higher People's Court of Beijing of the People's Republic of China. In uniform agreement with the TRAB and the First Intermediate People's Court of Beijing, the final judgment of the Higher People's Court of Beijing, presided over by Chief Judge Ceng Hongyu and Acting Judges Jiao Yan and Liu Qinghui, delivered April 25th, 2013 maintains that:
"[The Hong Kong Company, represented by Mr. and Mrs. Brown] cannot prove to have any prior right to the disputed trademark;" "the claims of [The Hong Kong Company] are not supported by our court due to lack of facts and legal basis."; "The appeal is rejected and the original judgment and verdict are sustained."
The TRAB and all courts involved are in unanimous agreement that original verdicts are sustained and therefore, the trademark LehmanBrown® is registered solely to HGL and the exclusive licensee LehmanBrown® CPA, a local Chinese accounting firm.
Not now, nor since 2003, is the trademark LehmanBrown® registered to Mr. or Mrs. Brown, their China based consulting wholly foreign owned enterprise ("WFOE"), or the Hong Kong Limited liability company. Without any right to the disputed LehmanBrown® trademark, Russell Brown's consulting WFOE has, and continues to infringe upon HGL's lawfully registered trademark and infringe upon the intellectual property rights of the exclusive licensee, LehmanBrown CPA. LehmanBrown CPA was founded by five Chinese nationals who are fully certified public accountants. This ongoing infringement may prove costly to Russell Brown and his consulting WFOE as under Chinese law the "Legal Representative" of a WFOE has personal, civil, and criminal liability for any wrong doings, including intellectual property infringement of the company, even beyond the scope of the registered capital of the WFOE.
A law suit against Russell Brown, as Legal Representative, for trademark infringement was filed by HGL in the Beijing 2nd Intermediate People's Court on June 5, 2013 seeking injunctive relief as well as monetary damages of RMB 10,000,000. After court discovery the Plaintiff's are looking to increase the relief for damages to a staggering 80,000,000 RMB which makes this law suit one of the leading intellectual property cases filed in China in 2013.
According to the Beijing Higher People's Court ruling, the LehmanBrown® trademark is lawfully registered at the China Trademark Office. It is owned by HGL. The sole registered licensee of the trademark in the People's Republic of China is LehmanBrown® CPA. LehmanBrown® CPA is not now, nor has it ever been owned or operated by Russell Brown, Zhou Han Brown, Dickson Leung, or any of their employees.
While the trademark dispute has come to a clear and unappealable conclusion within the Chinese legal system, the continued infringement upon the trademark LehmanBrown® by Russell Brown, Chairman of the British Chamber of Commerce in China, and his consulting WFOE leaves open the possibility that the Chinese State may follow through with its own investigation to bring a prosecution against any persons considered responsible for breaking the law. The possible commencement of a criminal investigation against Russell Brown by Chinese State officials, and the lawsuit filed against him by HGL on June 5, 2013 for trademark infringement, may only be the beginning of Russell Brown's future legal problems.
About LehmanBrown® CPA
LEHMANBROWN® CPA is one of China's leading accounting, taxation and business advisory firms.
Our accounting and consulting professionals have years of solid experience in auditing, accounting, financial management and tax consulting and have worked in public accounting as well as a wide variety of industry sectors. LEHMANBROWN® CPA is dedicated to providing professional accounting and financial advisory services to clients with an interest in the rapidly-developing Chinese market. We are based in Beijing, with a network of offices in Hong Kong, Macao, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, and Mongolia and manage an extensive affiliate network providing service throughout China.
With expertise gained from years of practice in international accounting firms, multi-national corporations, state-owned enterprises, and fast-moving startup companies, LEHMANBROWN® CPA provides customized solutions according to each client's specific and unique needs. With our in-depth understanding of the China market, we can assist your Chinese business to develop quickly and smoothly.
LEHMANBROWN® CPA knows well that the current unprecedented growth of China's economy means that the business environment – including the legal, accounting, and taxation systems - is also changing quickly. China is now an integral part of the global economy with its own special characteristics, and LEHMANBROWN® CPA's experts stand prepared to help clients succeed in this dynamic market.
Trademark Review and Adjudication Board
The Verdict on the Dispute of the Trademark No. 3013120
[No.: SPZ (2010) No. 04597]
The Verdict on the Dispute of the Trademark No. 3013121
[No.: SPZ (2010) No. 04597]
The First Intermediate Peoples Court of Beijing
Judgment: [No.: (2011) Y.Z.Z.H.C.Zi No. 366]
The Higher Peoples Court of Beijing of the Peoples Republic of China Administrative Judgment [No.: (2012) G.H.Z.Zi No. 686] Administrative Judgment [No.: (2012) G.H.Z.Zi No. 690]
SOURCE LehmanBrown CPA