British heritage brand Alfred Dunhill announced it was successful in its lawsuit against a Chinese brand trading with a similar name and offering rival products in China.
According to a press release issued this week by the luxury brand, Dunhill was awarded ‘uncommonly large’ damages by a Chinese court — the Foshan Intermediate People’s Court in Guangdong Province – to the sum of RMB 10 million ($1.47 million) for the long-running trademark case against rival Danhuoli.
The Chinese menswear brand Danhuoli was effectively found guilty of both trademark infringement and unfair competition practice. The verdict was hailed by Dunhill as a “landmark victory in China for any global brand” and demonstrates country’s progress in intellectual property (IP) protection, said Dunhill’s CEO Andrew Maag.
Danhuoli had originally registered the ‘Danhuoli’ trade mark in plain font, but had for several years used the mark in a manner bearing striking similarities to Alfred Dunhill’s signature elongated lettering and black and white colour palette.
The discount clothes company had also established a shadow company named ‘Dunhill Group’ in Hong Kong, to manage corporate business activities for the brand.
Alfred Dunhill had previously been successful in shutting down the shadow company in Hong Kong, but the brand had continued to trade across the Chinese mainland. Danhuoli operates more than 200 franchisee stores across 61 cities in China, claiming to generate annual turnover of RMB 100m ($14.7m).
For the suit, Dunhill was advised by international IP consultancy Rouse and its Chinese law firm partner Lusheng Law Firm.
“This win for Alfred Dunhill is just reward for all their hard work protecting their brand in China,” said Luke Minford, CEO of Rouse.
“The decision should reinforce to other brand owners that China is finally getting serious about protecting foreign brands.”
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The unique ruling is a milestone in China’s continued crackdown on IP infringement.
Over the last ten years, China has come a long way in developing and enforcing a more convincing IP rights regime, bringing it in line with other IP protection systems seen in the U.S. and Europe.