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Chinese IP law: do the brands look similar?


Two recent IP cases in China emphasise that it's often the look of a brand, logo or product that is infringed rather than the word mark itself, as Novagraaf's Theo Visser reveals.

The debut of Uncle Martian, the new brand for sportswear and shoes of Chinese sneaker manufacturer Tingfeiling Sporting Goods seems distinctive enough at first glance. However, when you compare its logo with that of American sports brand Under Armour, the new brand doesn’t seems to be that original anymore.

Under Armour also considers the new logo to be a violation of both its word and device mark, and has brought a case of trademark infringement in the Chinese courts. Tingfeilong has countered that its brand and logo aren’t similar to that of Under Armour. However, Under Armour has protected its brand in China well and it is likely, therefore, that the court will rule in favour of the US company.  

Whose lipstick is it anyway?
Another recent case concerns French designer Christian Louboutin. This time the copying didn’t involve Louboutin’s famous red soles, but a lipstick from its new cosmetics line.

Louboutin already has a court ruling in its pocket. The French design house acted successfully against Chinese manufacturer, Guangzhou Wentan Trading, for copying and selling a protected lipstick design. The Guangzhou IP Court, one of three specialist courts in China that deals with IP disputes, found in favor of Louboutin in its design infringement suit, ruling that Guangzhou Wentan Trading has to stop making and selling nine models lipstick model immediately.

For more on anti-counterfeiting or design infringement in China, read our anti-counterfeiting FAQs or contact us.

Theo Visser is a consultant and partner in the Amsterdam offices of Novagraaf