Manolo Blahnik, after 22 years, got the right to use his name in China. The Spanish designer, who opened the fashion house of the same name in London, whose shoes became famous all over the world with the protagonist of the TV series Sex and the City, Carry Bradshaw, found himself embroiled in a long legal battle that began in 2000. and that on Tuesday 19 July 2022 came to a rather rare sentence: the Chinese high court overturned uA brand that incorporated the name Manolo Blahnik, owned by Chinese businessman Fang Yuzhou. A decision that will allow, for the first time, the well-known designer to sell their products in China.
The legal matter
The story began in 1999, when a local shoe manufacturer appropriated the name Manolo Blahnik excluding the activity of the Spanish designer, started in London in 1971, from the market and therefore from the boom that brought China to become one of the largest countries in the world for luxury goods. It was a huge hole in our existence, Kristina Blahnik, managing director of Manolo Blahnik and grandson of the founder, told the Financial Times. When we got the call, we shed some real tears. Therefore, from today the original products of the brand will be able to be part of the Chinese market.
Register a trademark in China
This is not the first time such an episode has occurred. China is one of the countries that applies a first-to-file system to those who intend to register a trademark: it belongs to those who register it first, even though it is already used by others. The advantage of the mode is that it makes it easier to administer brand management and resolve disputes, based on an objective criterion such as the registration date. The big disadvantage, however, is that it leaves room for many intellectual property thefts, especially to the detriment of companies than trying to sell their name in a foreign country. In Beijing, this frequent dynamic is a source of tension in commercial relations with other countries, in particular the United States. As of 2019, a number of amendments have been approved to improve the registration structure.
The previous cases
Last year, US sports brand New Balance won a lawsuit against two Chinese companies that were accused of mimicking the “N” logo and received compensation of 25 million Chinese renminbi, among the largest ever awarded to brands. foreigners. Former NBA champion Michael Jordan managed to prevent Qiaodan (which would be the Chinese translation of “Jordan”) Sports, a Chinese sportswear manufacturer, used its trademark. The lawsuit lasted nine years and ended in 2020. Other international brands have won against China: among them, the Italian menswear group Zegna and the British brand Dunhill. While the French luxury company Hermes in 2012 lost a legal battle that began in 1997 to prevent Ai Ma Shi (Chinese translation of Hermes), a Chinese menswear company, from using its name.
Manolo Blahnik in the Chinese market
Meanwhile, Kristina Blahnik has made it known that we will not run like a rocket in China, but we will walk smoothly. The plans to enter the market are still in their infancy, very likely that the vsales will start from the second half of next year, without fearing legal retaliation and fighting counterfeits. Meanwhile, Chinese luxury consumers can admire and purchase Manolo Blahnik’s original products in stores in Tokyo, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taipei and Seoul.
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