In July 2013, the US brand New Balance was sued by a Chinese natural person surnamed Zhou for using "新百伦" in sale. Recently, Guangzhou Intermediate People's Court made a decision that New Balance should pay 98 million Yuan for trademark infringement. The amount is the largest compensation in the decisions in Guangzhou Intermediate People's Court by now.
Accordingly, New Balance was suspected of being infringement for its selling productions using "New balance/新百伦" characteristic in its online stores, official website, advertisements and receipts and so on.
Zhou is the owner of No. 865609 trademark "百伦" and No. 4100879 trademark "新百伦" on Class 25th goods of Clothes and Shoes. Zhou claims that New balance' using "新百伦" is trademark infringement. Besides, Guangzhou Shengshi Changyun Commercial chain co., LTD, the retailer of New Balance, was also sued for infringement.
According to the information from the Trademark Office under the State Administration for Industry and Commerce of China, No. 4100879 trademark "新百伦" was publicized in 2007. Then New Balance filed an objection requisition to the trademark. In 2011, the Trademark Office brought in a verdict that the trademark was not similar with the pertinent trademark, and affirmed the trademark. New Balance did not appeal.
The Court held that, New Balance' using "新百伦" in selling goods was using it as a trademark; "新百伦" was not the only transliteration name of New Balance. Thus, New Balance was subjective using "新百伦" trademark and infringed.
In confirmation of infringement responsibility, the Court held that, since New Balance use "新百伦" trademark in selling but did not directly use it on the goods, half of the profits should be paid as compensation. New Balance was obliged to use its trademark carefully in public and avoid using trademark similar or same to other trademarks.
Besides, New Balance has been using "新百伦" trademark instead of its legal name "纽巴伦" with fully knowledge of Zhou's ownership of the trademark. This kind of activity would cause confusion among public, so New Balance should be responsible.
According to New Balance, it will institute an appeal to the higher court. CIP News will continue to follow the latest developments.