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03 May 2021
New Balance was a major sport footwear manufacturer, known primarily for its high quality and high-performance sneakers with the iconic 'N' logo. In 1983 New Balance registered the following trademark in Class 25 in China:
Figure 1: New Balance logo 1
In 2014 New Balance registered another representation of the logo (Figure 2), also in Class 25:
Figure 2: New Balance logo 2
In 2010 Hainan Qierte Investment LLC filed applications for the following two trademarks in Class 25:
Figure 3: disputed marks
In 2012 Hainan Qierte Investment LLC obtained the registration of these marks. In 2013 both marks were assigned to another company, Qierte Co Ltd.
On 7 January 2014 New Balance brought an invalidation action against the disputed marks before the Trademark Review and Adjudication Board (TRAB), citing the following articles of the Trademark Law 2001:
New Balance also referred to the Anti-unfair Competition Law.
On 31 March 2015 the TRAB ruled against New Balance, finding that:
New Balance appealed before the Beijing IP Court.
On 10 May 2016 the Beijing IP Court ruled in favour of New Balance, finding that:
Qierte and the TRAB filed an appeal with the Beijing High Court.
On 25 October 2016 the Beijing High Court quashed the first-instance judgment based on the facts that:
On 21 April 2017 New Balance applied to the Supreme People's Court (SPC) for retrial.
In the retrial application, New Balance:
In September 2017 the SPC formally accepted New Balance's application for retrial on the ground of possible improper application of the law.
In March 2020 the SPC rendered a retrial decision in favour of New Balance, in which it affirmed that:
The SPC rulings may serve as precedents for similar cases in which bad faith regarding the way in which a registered trademark is used may affect the determination of its similarity.
For further information on this topic please contact Xingnan Ming at Wanhuida Intellectual Property by telephone (+86 10 6892 1000) or email (email@example.com). The Wanhuida Intellectual Property website can be accessed at www.wanhuida.com.
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