Shanghai Gao Tong Semiconductor Co, whose name is exactly the same as Qualcomm’s name in Chinese, said last week it filed a lawsuit against Qualcomm in April. The suit charges Qualcomm with trademark infringement and unfair competition and is demanding an injunction to stop it from using Chinese characters that read “Gao Tong” in its name. The Chinese firm is also seeking more than 100 million yuan ($16 million) in damages. The lawsuit has formally been accepted by Shanghai’s Municipal Higher Court, Shanghai Gao Tong said.
The Chinese firm has owned the rights for the Gao Tong trademark since its creation in 1992. Its attorney says that the U.S. chip maker started operations in China in 1994, registering the Qualcomm trademark and the Chinese translation for the name, Ka Er Kang. Four years later, however, it began marketing some of its products and services under the Gao Tong mark (in Chinese). The Chinese characters became its official local name when it set up subsidiaries Qualcomm Wireless Semi Conductor Technologies Limited and Qualcomm Wireless Communication Technologies (China) in 2001.
Qualcomm tried to register the name as its trademark in 2010 but never gained approval.
The Chinese firm has made several attempts to resolve the issue, sending an attorney’s letter to Qualcomm in 2002 and holding multiple discussions with the company. Qualcomm even offered Shanghai Gao Tong 50,000 yuan ($8,000) for the trademark, a move that chairwoman Cheng Ruping described as insulting and unworthy to accept.
The Shanghai company has held several discussions with Qualcomm which failed to produce an agreement, Ruping said as reported by the Nikkei Asian Review.