UK brand Dunhill secures trademark victory in China

A court in China has awarded British luxury brand Alfred Dunhill 10 million yuan ($1.47 million) after Chinese brand Danhuoli was found guilty of both trademark infringement and unfair competition.

The ruling in Guangdong province of the Foshan Intermediate People's Court has been described as a "major victory" for the global brand protection efforts of Alfred Dunhill's parent company, Richemont.

The 125-year-old London-based brand, said "the judge also deemed that the individual responsible for the company was personally liable for the infringement" and noted the decision strengthens China's growing reputation for intellectual property protection.

Andrew Maag, CEO at Alfred Dunhill, said the ruling "demonstrates Alfred Dunhill Ltd's unequivocal resolve in tackling infringement of our IP rights in China and globally".

"Our system of IP management and enforcement is second to none. With the support of Rouse and Lusheng Law Firm, we've secured a fair and proportionate ruling," Maag said.

International IP consultancy Rouse and its Chinese law company partner, Lusheng Law Firm supported Alfred Dunhill in the long-running case.

The trademark infringement centered around Danhuoli's illegal imitation of the long tail mark of Alfred Dunhill's globally recognized logo.

Danhuoli had also created a shadow company named Dunhill Group in Hong Kong to manage corporate business activities for the brand. While Alfred Dunhill had been successful in shutting down the shadow company in Hong Kong, it continues to trade across the Chinese mainland.

Danhuoli, a budget clothing company, operates more than 200 franchise stores in 61 Chinese cities and claims to generate an annual turnover of 100 million yuan.

Luke Minford, global CEO of Rouse, said: "The decision should reinforce to other brand owners that China is finally getting serious about protecting foreign brands."

China has long been plagued by production of counterfeits and imitation of well-known brands and the ruling this time is being seen as a milestone in Beijing's continued crackdown on IP infringement.

Jamie Rowlands, a partner in the China office of law company Gowling WLG, said:"China has, historically, been a very challenging jurisdiction from an IP perspective. However, more recently, IP enforcement has significantly improved, with foreign claimants winning key cases, as well as more robust legislation. The reality is that China has become a more claimant-friendly jurisdiction."

Last year, United States sportswear company New Balance won more than 10 million yuan in a trademark case after three Chinese shoemakers were found to have infringed on the brand's "N" logo.

(Source: China Daily UK)