File No. 893.54/310.
Minister Reinsch to the Secretary of State.
Peking, February 15, 1915—8 p.m.
Consulate General at Shanghai reports that the American owners of vaseline trade-mark have begun in the Mixed Court prosecutions against the Chinese vendors of a Japanese imitation bearing trademarks which are registered in Japan but which infringe the American mark protected for use in China both by provisional registration and by proclamation of the local authorities prohibiting infringement and that the Japanese Government sustains contention of its Consul General that failing to obtain by appropriate action in Japan annulment of the Japanese registration American company is not entitled to proceed even in a Chinese court against Chinese who contrary to the laws of China are dealing in an infringement so protected. The Japanese Consul General has therefore not only protested against the prosecutions instituted in the mixed court but also threatens similar retaliatory prosecutions against the Chinese dealing in the American goods bearing the original trade-mark.
That contention if conceded would annul the only protection for industrial property rights that now exists in China and would subject to Japanese domestic law and jurisdiction the right of Japanese subjects to the use in China of any trade-mark which they might choose to register at home.
Unless otherwise instructed I propose to advise the Consulate General at Shanghai in the immediate future that at least in so far as concerns prosecutions by Americans against Chinese the rights of industrial property in China are determinable by local law as based upon priority of use and of registration and proclamation and that Japanese registration cannot interfere with the right of an American company to seek redress in a Chinese court for violations by Chinese citizens of its rights under Chinese law.