The Secretary of State to Minister Rockhill.
Washington, June 30, 1906.
Sir: With instruction No. 105 of February 20 last the department sent you a copy of its reply to the notes of the French, British, and German ambassadors regarding trade-mark regulations in China. On the 12th ultimo the German ambassador made a reply to that memorandum, a translation of which reply is inclosed herewith, urging this Government to withdraw its opposition to section 25 of the draft previously submitted, and advancing arguments in support of his position.
This reply was submitted to the Secretary of the Interior, for reference to the Commissioner of Patents, for consideration. Copies of the reply of the Secretary of the Interior and of a letter from the Commissioner of Patents are inclosed herewith. You will observe that the conclusion reached by the Commissioner of Patents is that if the American merchants have acquired no rights under the imperfect system of registration heretofore effected at Tientsin and Shanghai the German ambassador’s proposal to supplement section 7 and retain section 25 may be concurred in; but if they have acquired rights thereby the position heretofore assumed by this department should be maintained.
Whether or not definite valuable rights were thus acquired is a question of law and of fact. That American merchants supposed themselves to be obtaining rights is sufficiently indicated by their making application for registry. It may, however, be that the Chinese Government’s declaration, cited by the German ambassador, “That applications received by the branch registry offices should not be granted a right of priority and that no registry should be made,” deprives such prior registration of all value.
Aside from this consideration, it may also be that for this Government to insist on the recognition of prior registry by American merchants would be a disadvantage to these merchants themselves, as it would necessarily involve the recognition of prior registry by merchants of all nationalities, and it would, perhaps, be better to waive all rights under prior registration and to start anew upon a basis of equal opportunities. It may be that adjacent trade rivals of the American merchant may be found to have anticipated his registry of his own marks.[Page 253]
You are instructed to consult with the American commercial community and to inform the department, by cable if practicable, whether or not rights are held to have been acquired by the registration heretofore effected, and whether or not the German ambassador’s proposal would, if accepted, adversely affect them.
I am, sir, etc.,
- Not printed.↩