Dunhill vs Danhuoli: A Curtain – Raiser for Higher Damage Compensation

Last October, Alfred Dunhill, a British luxury brand, won a $1.4m (RMB 10 million) payout over trademark infringement by a Chinese menswear brand called Danhuoli, marking an important progression in IP protection in China. Dunhill filed and ordered the lawsuit in China where the Foshan Intermediate People’s Court in Guangdong Province found the Chinese menswear label guilty of trademark infringement and unfair competition practices. Danhuoli registered their name under a shadow company in Hong Kong called “Dunhill Group” and had originally registered the “Danhuoli” trademark in plain font. However,  the infringing Danhuoli logo, which had been used for several years , was considered by the Court as very similar to Dunhill’s original thin, black, and elongated logo font.

There may be no litigious businessman in the world, however, in recent years, more and more foreign brands are becoming involved with disputes regarding the protection of intellectual property rights. The list has been steadily growing longer: Ralph Lauren vs POLO SPORT, MUJI vs 无印良品,Ermenegildo Zegna vs Yves Zegnoa, SUPREME vs Supreme Italia. Since 2011, the number of trademark infringement cases accepted by Chinese courts has been on the rise every year. Generally speaking, in the past, decisions made by the Chinese Courts on IPR , including those filed by foreign companies, were considered low compared to the international standards. Thanks to the Dunhill decision, the awarded amounts have been increased: This notorious case can be deemed as a “groundbreaking” victory for Dunhill as its compensation exceeds far more than the average amount awarded in trademark infringement cases in China.

The new amendments to the Trademark Law, which is scheduled to enter in force in November 2019, will drive towards the direction of strengthening the protection of registered trademarks and increase the threshold of the statutory damages to 5m RMB in cases of trademark infringements.

It is still a long and arduous task for famous brands to crack down on counterfeiting and infringements in China, but for those brands that are fighting now, every action can lay a solid foundation for their successors. However, regarding infringement, not only luxury brands have been targeted,  some middle and low-end brands have also fell victim of IPR attacks. On the protection of trademark and brands, D’Andrea & Partners can always offer you a helping hand. If you want to learn more about trademark rights protection, feel free to contact us at info@dandreapartners.com.

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