Two courts here have ordered three sauna clubs to compensate the Britain-based Ritz Hotel 200,000 yuan each for trademark infringement.
The Shanghai No 1 Intermediate People's Court said yesterday Shanghai Rits Health Club had used a name similar to Ritz and operated similar businesses, therefore it could have easily caused confusion.
The club uses the name "Rits" together with its Chinese name.
However, as it targets the high-end market and attracts Chinese as well as foreign customers, the name "Rits", could be confused with Ritz, and would therefore receive more attention than its Chinese name, the court said.
Rits argued that its parent company in Xiamen started using Rits before the hotel group registered "Ritz" as a trademark in China in 2003.
However, the Ritz company, which was founded in 1896, had obtained the "Le Ritz" trademark as early as 1993 and had started its operations in China in 1998.
Xiamen Lijing Entertainment Co, which has three outlets in Shanghai, applied to the State Administration of Industry and Commerce to register Rits as a trademark in 2000, but it was rejected in 2003 due to its similarity to Ritz.
The court also ordered the club to stop using Rits in all of its operations.
In the other two cases heard by Shanghai No 2 Intermediate People's Court, the club's two sister companies in Shanghai, Shanghai Huangpu Rits Club and Shanghai Jing'an Rits Business Hotel, received the same sentences.
Meng Ting, Ritz's attorney, told China Daily he was happy with the results.
"It was more than we expected," he said.
Meng said Ritz had registered its trademark in 100 countries and regions, and had built a network to watch for infringement.
Source: China Daily