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People's Daily Online>>China Business

Levi's wins trademark infringement case in China

By Wang Zhiguo (Jiefang Daily)

17:11, October 26, 2011

Edited and Translated by People's Daily Online

The iconic stitching on the back pockets of Levi's jeans is the classic symbol of the brand and also a registered trademark. In order to protect its trademark, Levi Strauss and Co., owner of the Levi's brand, has launched several trademark infringement lawsuits in Belgium, South Korea, Singapore, the United States, Japan and other countries.

In early 2011, Levi's filed its first lawsuit over infringement of its double-arched "Arcuate" stitching trademark in China. Shanghai's Pudong New Area People's Court recently ruled that four defendant companies infringed on the company's trademark.

In January, Levi's filed lawsuits in Shanghai and Beijing over infringement. Shanghai's Pudong New Area People's Court received the indictment earlier than the court in Beijing and accepted the case on Jan. 25. It was the first time that Levi’s filed lawsuits over infringement of its stitching trademark in China.

Among the four defendants, Hangzhou Hongye Clothing Company and Jianchiwode Clothing Company are owners of Jasonwood jeans, Zhongshan Renxin Clothing Factory is the manufacturer of the jeans, and Shanghai Xinning Shopping Center Company is the jeans' distributor. Levi's asked the court to order the four companies to immediately stop using its arcuate stitching design, destroy all infringing products and delete all Internet ads.

Moreover, it also asked for a compensation of 1 million yuan from the Jasonwood brand owners and the manufacturer. Shanghai Xinning Shopping Center Company took all infringing products off the shelf immediately after the suit was filed.

Levi's said during the court hearing that the arcuate design was first registered as a trademark in the United States in 1943 and the trademark is now registered in 166 countries and regions including China.

Jasonwood argued that it designed its trademark based on the letter "J," and it is different from Levi Straus's arcuate design. Producers in the jean industry all use tags and leather labels as trademarks and arcuate design is neither a trademark nor is used as a trademark. Jasonwood has not violated Levi Straus's arcuate design and has only used the "J" label in part of its jean products with a small sales volume.

The court ruled that the arcuate designs of the defendants and plaintiff are nearly identical and their positions on the back pockets are almost the same. The defendants’ practices of using trademarks on the back pockets that are similar to Levis will likely mislead customers and have violated the plaintiff's exclusive right to use the trademark, so the defendants must immediately stop the violation and make the compensation.

In terms of compensation, since Levi's could not prove that the defendants used the illegal trademarks on all jeans they produced and sold, the court did not support the company's claim for 1 million yuan in compensation. The court has required the four defendants to stop the trademark infringement and demanded that Hangzhou Hongye and Jasonwood must immediately eliminate all the hyperlinks of related products from their official websites and join Zhongshan Renxin in paying a total of 350,000 yuan in compensation to Levi's.


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KleinTrialLawyers at 2011-11-1599.51.185.*
It is not surprising that Levi Strauss would go to great lengths to protect their trademark. As the court ruled in this case, these types of infringements are extremely detrimental to brand equity. Have you taken the proper precautions to protect your brand?

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