A Chinese court has rejected Johnson & Johnson's attempts to protect its trademark against an indigenous manufacturer -- the second copyright decision to go against a multinational in little over a month.

After a six-year campaign by J&J, Beijing's No.1 Intermediate People's Court ruled in favour of the China Trade Mark Review and Adjudication Board and State Administration for Industry and Commerce, according to state media.

The US healthcare giant argued that the two government agencies should not have awarded a trademark to an unnamed Chinese company for Careful sanitary towels. J&J claimed the name was too close to its own registered Carefree brand, but the court ruled that the two differed in "pronunciation, formation and meaning".

The decision highlights the problems multinationals face establishing themselves beyond the bamboo curtain. In a similar ruling in November, Toyota was told it was not a "distinctive brand in China" that required protection [WAMN: 26-Nov-03].

China is in the process of overhauling its trademark, patent and copyright regulations to meet international standards as part of entry into the World Trade Organization.

J&J may appeal against the decision in a higher court.

Data sourced from: Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff