By Faith Magbanua | August 26, 2017
An order from the Chinese court has three domestic shoemakers to pay more than 10 million yuan ($1.5 million) to the popular shoe brand, New Balance, for damages because they have infringed the U.S. sportswear company’s signature slanting logo.
According to lawyers, the compensation amount, though still considered small by international standards, is one of the highest to be awarded to foreign companies in trademark disputes in China.
A speech by President Xi Jinping last month follows the court ruling where he vowed to punish intellectual property (IP) infringers. U.S. President Donald Trump had recently authorized an inquiry into China’s IP practices amid estimates that IP theft by the country could be as high as $600 billion.
Meanwhile, an intermediate court in the coastal industrial town of Suzhou said in its ruling last week that the three defendants – including an individual who registered a company in Colorado as New Bai Lun – should stop infringing the American company’s iconic trademark and their dishonest promotion of products.
According New Balance’s lawyer Carol Wang from the Lushen Law Firm “Although this sort of decision is still rare, it sends a strong and powerful message that should make it easier for foreign brands to do business here.”
The court ruling document first appeared on social media on Tuesday and was later confirmed by the law firm.
Angela Shi, brand protection manager of New Balance, said in a statement. “The winning of this case has given us confidence to continue our proactive brand protection strategy in China.”
On the other hand, the three Chinese defendants – Zheng Chaozhong, Xin Ping Heng Sporting Goods Limited Company and Bo Si Da Ke Trading Limited – could not be reached for comment.
New Balance, which entered China in 2003 and has more than 2,000 stores in the country, and has been dragged into a prolonged lawsuit battle in the mainland where hundreds of trademarks in variations identical to its “N” logo are registered.