On February 14, 2022, the China National Intellectual Property Administration (CNIPA) has announced a crackdown on the malicious filing of trademarks for Olympic mascots and athletes for “infringing on the personality rights and other legitimate rights and interests of others, has caused significant adverse social impact, and damaged the good image of China’s strict protection of intellectual property rights.” CNIPA rejected 429 trademark applications, including those for Eileen Gu (谷爱凌 and homonyms). CNIPA also cancelled, ex officio, 43 trademarks, 20 of which were for Eileen Gu.
In the “Notice on cracking down on malicious squatting registration of trademarks such as ‘Bingdundun’ and ‘Gu Ailing'” in accordance with the law (关于依法打击恶意抢注“冰墩墩”“谷爱凌”等商标注册的通告), CNIPA stated that it
attached great importance to the intellectual property protection for the Winter Olympics and the Winter Paralympics, and has continued to carry out the special campaign against malicious trademark registration. The CNIPA has successively granted special mark protection to the “Beijing 2022”, the “Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics Emblem” and the “Beijing 2022 Winter Paralympics Emblem”, etc., as applied for by the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Winter Olympics and granted trademark registration protection for “Eileen Gu” and other names of athletes.
However, some have acted maliciously to register marks of mascots and athletes, especially that of Eileen Gu. Gu, a Chinese American athlete, has mass appeal in China modeling for a mix of Western and Chinese brands including Louis Vuitton, Victoria’s Secret, Tiffany & Co., IWC and Estée Lauder, Anta, Luckin’ Coffee and more. Gu recently won gold at the Olympics in the Women’s Big Air Freestyle skiing boosting her popularity further in China.
Bing Dun Dun, another popular target, is the official mascot of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics. Bing and other mascots were registered in 2020 per the Regulations on the Protection of the Olympic Symbols with a term of 10 years.
CNIPA rejected the trademarks under Regulations on the Protection of Olympic Symbols and Article 10, Paragraph 1 (8) of the Trademark Law and cancelled trademarks under Article 44, paragraph 1 of the Trademark Law.