Tencent v. CNIPA: the “Honor of Kings” trademark is mine!

Anything about the world’s highest-grossing game of all time is no laughing matter, let alone any cent at risk!


In a decision dated May 13, 2021, the China National Intellectual Property Administration (CNIPA) failed on appeal to maintain the registration of a Chinese trademark alleged to infringe a well-known trademark owned by Tencent Holdings Ltd.


Guizhou Lelehui Trading Co., Ltd., formerly known as Guizhou Wenqu Chengyu Wine Co., Ltd., filed the application to register a trademark 王者荣耀 (pinyin: Wángzhě Róngyào; English: Honor of Kings) its alcoholic products bore with the CNIPA in November 2015 and was granted the registration in December 2016. In November 2015, Tencent, as a top global game developer, launched a title bearing the name 王者荣耀, which has since grown into the world's highest-grossing game of all time. It’s also known as Arena of Valor internationally.


In June 2018, Tencent filed a petition with the CNIPA to cancel the registration of the “Honor of Kings” mark owned by the Guizhou province-based brewer, asserting Tencent’s priority. The CNIPA rejected Tencent’s request for cancellation. Tencent appealed the decision to the Beijing Intellectual Property Court, impleading the brewer as the third-party defendant. The first instance court reversed the decision of the CNIPA, relying on the text of Article 32 of the Trademark Law of China and explaining that “prior rights” encompass prior copyright of an intellectual work and prior interests vested in the high public recognition of it as a brand name. The Court didn’t base its affirmation of Tencent’s claim for trademark invalidation on the prior copyright of “Honor of Kings” as a game but on the prior interests vested in the high public recognition of it as a brand name.


The CNIPA filed an appeal with the Beijing Higher People’s Court on the ground that Tencent failed to present evidence in support of its assertion that the “Honor of Kings” mark enjoyed high recognition in the consumers of alcoholic products. The second instance court dismissed the appeal and ruled that the decision of the lower court was final.


Beijing Children's Legal Aid and Research Center, a Chinese public-interest group, said Tuesday that it is suing Tencent over what it alleges is inappropriate content for minors in Honor of Kings. Tencent revealed last November that the game had recorded 100 million daily active users.

@2021 China IP Magazine