The orientation of Chinese judges in disputes between local and foreign brands seems to be changing. Another victory obtained by New Balance against imitator New Barlun in what is considered (almost) the mother of all anti-fake causes. But, above all, a sentence that demonstrates the arrogant banality of fakes. This can be understood instantly by looking at the photo (from manofmany.com). The “N” logo on New Barlun sneakers is “visually and conceptually” similar to New Balance’s. In other words: it is a trademark infringement.
The arrogant banality of fakes
The Shanghai Huangpu District Court ruled in favour of New Balance, awarding damages for approximately 3.85 million dollars. A value that makes this sentence one of the most significant as regards to the sportswear market in China. This victory comes on top of that achieved in April 2020, when the Shanghai Pudong Court ended a 16-year legal battle, awarding New Balance 1.54 million dollars. New Barlun had, in fact, obtained the registration of its own brand thanks to a slight modification with respect to that of the American brand and, since 2001, had begun to sell its articles, especially sneakers.
The Chinese court has now found that New Barlun sports footwear generated substantial revenues, and that this success was largely attributable to the fame and reputation of New Balance and its “N”. The court also convicted the distributor of the fake brand Shanghai Shiyi Trade Co. Ltd. But, above all, he put pen to paper that New Barlun acted in bad faith. In fact, they would have ignored a provisional injunction pending sentence that ordered him to cease production and distribution.
A win for everyone
Carol Wang, a lawyer with the Rouse legal network, noted in The Fashion Law that this ruling “is not just a victory for New Balance. But it is an example in favour of a wide range of international brands operating in China”.
- Ferragamo finds Amazon as an ally in the fight against fake in the USA
- Gucci and wholesale: RFID to trace suspect sales