Major luxury brand, Alfred Dunhill has won a major trademark battle against Chinese menswear brand Danhouli. The Chinese Court has awarded a 10 million RMB )$1.47 million USD) to Dunhill against the Chinese brand for infringing its well-known “long tail mark” used worldwide.

Danhouli’s logo had a striking similarity to the elongated lettering used in Alfred Dunhill’s mark. Both the logos have elongated tails on the lowercase letters “d”, “h” and “l”. Danhouli has also elongated the last letter “I” to make it look like the double “ll” at the end of Dunhill.

Danhouli had also established a shadow company in the name of Dunhill Group to manage the corporate business activities of the Danhouli brand. Although, Dunhill was successful in shutting this company down, Danhouli continued its trade across the Chinese mainland.

Worth noting here is the “uncommonly large” damages awarded by the Chinese court as compared to other trademark damages awarded in China. It is larger than the average damages awarded in trademark rulings in China. Earlier, the Chinese courts had awarded exorbitantly damages of 10 million RMB to the band New Balance. It was the largest damages award ever handed out by Chinese courts and about three times higher than the maximum statutory damages for trademark infringement under Chinese law at that time.

For a long time, China has been plagued by the problem of counterfeits and imitation of well known brands. The Alfred Dunhill ruling is a milestone in China’s continued crackdown on IP infringement.

China is a very challenging jurisdiction for IP. However, in the recent years, China is significantly improving in terms of protection of IP protection which can be seen from the number of foreign claimants winning key cases.

The IP Index of this year has noted that China’s IP system is still inclined towards domestic entities but the Alfred Dunhill case and the New Balance case gives a ray of hope that China is overcoming that as well.

23 aug, 2018


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