China-EU School of Law (CESL, Beijing) in Trademark Dispute with Hamburg University

China-EU School of Law (CESL) is a rising star in China’s legal education. Located in Beijing, CESL is the only law school to be approved by the Ministry of Education under the “Sino-foreign Schools Agreement.” It bears the hope of reforming China’s legal education. However, a recent trademark dispute reveals many problems between China University of Political Science and Law (CUPL) and Hamburg University, the partner school from EU.

The acting Chinese Dean, Professor Fang Liufang, recently issued the following statement:

Statement on the Protection of CESL’s English Name

In the year prior to the China-EU School of Law’s establishment, all relevant documents including the Financing Agreement between EU and P.R.China, the Grant Contract between EU and University of Hamburg  (UHH) and the EU Guidelines for Grant Applicants Responding to the Call for Proposals 2007 universally used “Europe-China School of Law” as the English translation of the project’s Chinese name “中欧法学院”. Even in the earlier stage of the application for establishing a Sino-foreign Jointly Operated School, two parties of School Agreement, namely UHH and CUPL, used the English name Europe-China School of Law at China University of Political Science and Law as the English translation of “中国政法大学中欧法学院”.

In June 2008 the Ministry of Education questioned why the name on the application form was different in Chinese (中国政法大学中欧法学院) and in English (Europe-China School of Law at China University of Political Science and Law). CUPL therefore communicated with UHH on the issue of amending the English name. The Dean of the UHH Faculty of Law, wrote a letter on August 1, 2008 to the President of CUPL stating that as the EU did not have any objections, he would be willing to accept the Ministry of Education’s requirement that the English name be changed to the China-EU School of Law. When agreements between contractual parties change over time, earlier agreements are superseded by any subsequent agreements.

Ministry of Education documentation approved the CESL name as the China-EU School of Law in China University of Political Science and Law on September 17, 2008, and the EU did not raise any objections. After CESL was established, “China-EU School of Law in China University of Political Science and Law” has always been CESL’s full name, CESL is only an acronym. The two partners have never disagreed about this point. In order to prevent unauthorised usage of the CESL name, the full name and logo always appear on all publicity material and the website.

Currently the CESL name is experienced to the following infringements:

1. In July 2012, someone has registered the CESL English name, Chinese name and logo with The Trade Marks and Designs Registration Office of the European Union (OHIM) with the Faculty of Law at University of Hamburg listed as the sole owner, without permission from CUPL

2. Someone has registered CESL’s English name with the University Directory as the “China-EU School of Law, University of Hamburg”, without CUPL’s permission–University-of-Hamburg.html#.UMbWQFKUfSg.

3. Someone has used the CESL English name on the University of Hamburg website without authorisation from CUPL and obscured the words “at the China University of Political Science and Law” from the logo, misleading people into believing that CESL is a part of the University of Hamburg

4. Someone produced show board at the 2012 Europe Day using the CESL name without CUPL’s authorisation. This board stated in the location section that CESL is only “hosted” by CUPL, and moreover designated the Ministry of Education as “Implementing Agency”.

5. Someone used the CESL name to publicise “the University of Hamburg led China-EU School of Law” (last visit: December 10,2012, and the original webpage was deleted quietly), this advertisement made an undisguised attempt to portray CESL as a part of the University of Hamburg.

6. Someone changed the name of the “China-EU School of Law at the China University of Political Science and Law Summer School” to the Summer School am Europa-Kolleg Hamburg and publicised it on the “Hamburg Liaison Office Shanghai” website contrary to the facts and without authorisation from CUPL School am Europa-Kolleg Hamburg_cn.

The above actions were taken by the University of Hamburg Consortium Office. After CESL was established, the University of Hamburg recruited a full-time marketing and fundraising manager, who started to describe CESL as a part of the University of Hamburg, and who took erasing the fact that CESL is a part of CUPL as the main part of his mission.

In order to obstruct the infringement against CESL’s name and trade mark, CESL will take all legal measures including raising law suit internationally against the relevant institution and individuals. 

Professor Fang Liufang
Chinese Dean and Executive Principal
China-EU School of Law
In China University of Political Science and Law