Chargé Coolidge to the Secretary of State.

No. 1788.]

Sir: Acknowledging the receipt of Department Instruction No. 855, of November 18, and continuing Mr. Conger’s dispatch No. 1762, of December 8, with regard to trade-mark regulations, I have the honor to transmit a statement by Mr. Williams, the Chinese secretary of this legation, giving an exact account of the subsequent development of the situation, from which it will be seen that the protesting ministersa have succeeded in their effort to secure the postponement of registration for, I fear, an indefinite period. This postponement probably also involves the abandonment, for the present, of any attempt at framing patent or copyright regulations, as provided by recent treaties. This result will be received with satisfaction by the foreign commercial communities in the treaty ports, with the exception of the Japanese.

The question of the registration of the trade-marks already filed, in accordance with the regulations as originally issued, will come up for settlement when the legal time for registration arrives.

I have, etc.,

John Gardner Coolidge.

memorandum present situation as to trade mark regulations.

Mr. Conger, learning that some agreement was about to be arrived at between the wai wu pu and the representatives of Germany, France, Austria, Italy, and Great Britain for the postponement of the registration of trade-marks and the amendment of trade-mark regulations, directed me to go to the wai wu pu to say that the United States had asked for the adoption of trademark regulations, and that upon their issue had accepted them in good faith; that the United States Government had taken no part in the effort to have their operation postponed; and that it was but due to the United States that it should be promptly informed if any suspension were contemplated.

At the yamen of the wai wu pu I saw his excellency Lien-fang, who could give very little information, but two or three days later he and his excellency Na-tung called at the legation and handed to Mr. Conger a copy of the correspondence between the wai wu pu and the five ministers just mentioned. At the same time they said that it was proposed to postpone the date at which registration would begin, but that no notice to that effect had as yet been issued; that none would be issued until replies should be received from the five protesting ministers; that so soon as agreement should be reached as to the course to be taken a dispatch would be sent to inform the United States minister.

A perusal of the correspondence, however, showed that a practical agreement had already been reached, and a day or two later a notice appeared in a Tientsin paper, embodying a letter from His British Majesty’s consul-general to the chairman of the chamber of commerce, announcing the postponement of registration on the authority of the British minister.

Immediately upon its receipt (December 29) Mr. Conger wrote to the wai wu pu calling attention to it and to the promise of the wai wu pu that he would be promptly informed if registration should be postponed. No answer having been received, on January 4, at Mr. Conger’s direction, I went again to the wai wu pu to inquire, and was told that the reply was drafted and would be sent that day. It came as promised. While there I was told that [Page 246]no replies had come from the five ministers, who had referred the matter to their Governments, but that the arrangement was practically agreed to, that no registration would be begun until the regulations were amended to the satisfaction of the ministers named. I was also told that it was understood that the postponement would be not more than six months; but this appears to be understood by the Chinese Government only. I pointed out that no such limitation was mentioned in the correspondence. His excellency Na-tung replied that it was implied in the terms of the correspondence, requiring that the matter be treated promptly, but that the words “six months” had not been used lest the revision should not be fully completed in that time.

In the first conversation which I had with his excellency Lien-fang, he also said the postponement would be for six months.

His excellency Na-tung said, further, that no notice of postponement had been issued, and that none would be issued until replies were received from the five ministers, and that the wai wu pu was not responsible for the notice in the Tientsin paper.

Asked as to the registration of trade-marks already filed, he said none would be registered until an agreement should be reached. I pointed out that this would violate rights acquired under existing regulations to have registration in six months from date of application. He denied any violation of rights, yet insisted that no registration would be made until agreement should be reached. He said that immediately upon the receipt of replies from the five Governments mentioned, agreeing to the arrangement set forth in the correspondence, the wai wu pu would inform the board of commerce, which board would issue a general notification postponing the date on which registration would begin, but that applications for registration would still be received. I was told that some 800 Japanese trade-marks had already been filed and not a few belonging to merchants of other nationalities.

I have the honor, etc.,

E. T. Williams,
Chinese Secretary.
  1. Correspondence not printed.