Hospital Imitating Nationally-renowned UFH Brand Fined by Local Authorities, Marking Important Progress Against Trademark Infringers in China’s Healthcare Sector, Protecting Patients
BEIJING, Dec. 9, 2014 /PRNewswire/ — United Family Healthcare (UFH), China’s first and largest foreign-invested healthcare provider, announced preliminary progress in the fight against trademark infringement of its China-wide nationally known healthcare brand. Guizhou, China provincial authorities today released an official decision paper that censures and imposes fines on a hospital in Weining County that is illicitly using the UFH brand to attract patients. In October of this year, UFH submitted an official complaint to the local and provincial Administration for Industry and Commerce (AIC) in Weining, Guizhou regarding the gross infringement of the UFH registered brand trademark for a hospital operating under the name "Weining United Family Hospital." The complaint stated that the Weining hospital is misleading patients into believing that UFH is managing its facility when, in fact, United Family Healthcare has no affiliation with this organization whatsoever. The infringing hospital is using the UFH logo on its building signage as well as on all its marketing materials, doctor and nurse uniforms, websites, and social media channels. It even uses actual pictures of UFH leadership along with UFH Chair Roberta Lipson and former US Commerce Secretary Gary Locke opening real UFH facilities, but employing imaging software to add the word "Weining" before "United Family Hospital," making it look to be UFH and United States government supported. US President Obama is also pictured as endorsing the hospital.
Building signage and advertisement for copycat "Weining United Family Hospital," showing Joint Commission International logo, and copies of various American brand logos to mislead patients.
Copycat Weining hospital materials showing actual United Family Healthcare leadership including founder and CEO Roberta Lipson at opening ceremonies, with the word "Weining" imaged in.
As a result of the official complaint, the local and provincial authorities in Guizhou have investigated the situation and have provided a ruling against the trademark infringer, directing the facility to cease use of the United Family Healthcare logo, but not yet requiring them to stop usage of the United Family trade name. A financial fine of RMB 81,300 (approximately US$ 13,263) has also been imposed on the hospital. The Guizhou AIC has required the Weining hospital to immediately take these corrective actions, noting this penalty decision is a first step, and that there might be further action taken requiring a name change, and more. United Family Healthcare will continue to pursue additional action in this regard, as it deems it totally unacceptable for any other hospital to use the name United Family Healthcare or its Chinese name "He Mu Jia."
United Family Healthcare Chairperson, Roberta Lipson, noted, "We at UFH are deeply appreciative of the Guizhou government’s efforts in investigating the matter, in making a strong public declaration in our favor, and in taking some steps to correct the situation. For 17 years UFH has been building a brand which represents the highest quality healthcare standard. This quality has been affirmed by multiple international quality agencies including the Joint Commission International (JCI), the College of American Pathologists (CAP) and others. Consumers seeking the very best in medical care have come to trust the meaning of the UFH brand. When the brand is falsely copied, patients can be misled into believing that they can expect the same standard of care as in a real UFH facility, but in fact they may be receiving substandard care which can be dangerous. This is not different than the manufacture and sale of fake medications. We hope that newcomers to China’s medical industry will now think carefully before seeking to copy top brands like United Family Healthcare. We also look forward to a further ruling from the Chinese government to stop all copycat usage of the United Family Healthcare trade name."
Such further action would provide a clear message to all those in China’s healthcare industry that the Chinese government will seek to rigorously enforce intellectual property laws and sternly punish those infringing on registered brands like UFH. Infringement not only negatively impacts the business environment for private healthcare in China, but it can also mislead or harm patients seeking appropriate care. UFH is interested in letting others know about this situation, since the company’s first and foremost concern is always for the health and personal safety of every individual in its greater community, and their right to access safe, effective, and government-approved healthcare. It will always be UFH’s concern when individuals receive non-standard treatment in a non-accredited medical environment, possibly threatening patient safety. In this situation, patients were specifically led to believe that United Family Healthcare was managing the Weining facility. As a result, UFH has received several complaints from individual patients about the substandard care they received in Weining, but UFH is unfortunately unable to address these individuals’ complaints as it is not associated with that facility in any way.
For the health and safety of everyone, UFH hopes that trademark infringement of healthcare providers in China ceases immediately. UFH is committed to working with all relevant Chinese authorities to make the enforcement of trademark laws a priority. Healthcare is an important social good and highly regulated by the government, as it should be. Consumers depend on the government to ensure the highest quality and safety in healthcare. Tricks, brand stealing, and fakes should never be allowed. United Family Healthcare thanks the Guizhou provincial and local governments for their efforts so far in protecting the unique United Family Healthcare brand, and thanks the Chinese government at many levels for their enforcement efforts in this matter. We sincerely hope they will continue to protect Chinese citizens from harm by those copying well-established brands such as UFH.
About United Family Healthcare
United Family Healthcare (UFH) is a leading premium Asian healthcare service provider based in Beijing. UFH’s mission is to provide comprehensive, integrated healthcare in a uniquely warm, caring, patient service-oriented environment. UFH owns or operates 5 hospitals and 14 clinics, and constantly strives for quality, safety, and service excellence. In China, all facilities in its system with long-term operation are accredited with the gold standard for quality by Joint Commission International (JCI). More information is available at http://www.ufh.com.cn.