New Balance has won a legal battle in a major trademark case against Chinese sportswear company, New Barlun. Lusheng Law Firm, a member of the Rouse network, advised New Balance.
The Shanghai Huangpu District Court handed down the decision on 5 January 2021, and ordered Fujian-based New Barlun and Shanghai Shiyi Trade to pay damages of RMB25 million (US$3.85 million) to New Balance. The compensation amounts to one of the largest sums awarded to a trademark owner in the sports sector in China to date.
“This is not only a win for New Balance, but for a wide range of international brands operating in China, as they continue to face the increasing threat of copycats on their business,” said Carol Wang, a principal and head of litigation group at Lusheng in Shanghai.
“The judgment further demonstrates China’s commitment to establishing a sophisticated and robust IP system that matches other leading countries, and will be crucial in attracting international investment.”
The court ruled that shoes marked with the capital “N” symbol, which appears in New Barlun and Shiyi’s manufacturing and distribution, constituted an infringement against New Balance’s trademark rights, as the logo was similar to the renowned original, both visually and conceptually. The infringing products were found to have benefited from the New Balance logo’s reputation and fame.
Additionally, the court ruled that the distributor, Shanghai Lusha, should be jointly held liable for RMB100,000.