A 22-Year Trademark Fight Won By Manolo Blahnik  In China

Manolo Blahnik, the shoe brand made famous by celebrity admirers and regular appearances in the TV drama “Sex and the City,” announced on Tuesday that it had won a legal battle in China to use its own name, opening the way for the company’s nationwide development.

The company, named after its Spanish founder, said in a statement that the verdict was handed down by China’s Supreme People’s Court last month, bringing to a close a long-running legal struggle.

Since 2000, Manolo Blahnik has launched multiple cases against Chinese businessman Fang Yuzhou to challenge the validity of trademarks Fang has filed relating to the “Manolo Blahnik” moniker.

“This is a meaningful victory for my uncle, our family and our team and I want to express gratitude to the Supreme People’s Court of China for its thorough and careful consideration of our long-standing case,” Chief Executive Kristina Blahnik, the niece of founder Manolo Blahnik, said.

Fang could not be reached for comment by Reuters.

While the Manolo Blahnik brand has been well-known throughout the world since the 1970s, China has different intellectual property (IP) rules than nations such as the United States, which require corporations to demonstrate prior usage or plan to use a trademark before it can be registered.

Because China is a “first to file” jurisdiction, Fang’s claim to the name as the first to trademark it in the Chinese market in 1999 was long found to be stronger under Chinese law.

However, things have changed in recent years, with 2019 modifications to China’s intellectual property rules targeting so-called “bad faith” filings. In recent years, this has resulted in some high-profile victories for foreign businesses.

In 2020, for example, China’s Qiaodan Sports was barred from using the silhouette of basketball icon Michael Jordan as its emblem, though it can still use its own romanization of Jordan’s Chinese name (Qiaodan).

Manolo Blahnik, which has hitherto only been available to Chinese consumers through third-party e-commerce platforms such as Farfetch, has stated that it intends to expand its business into mainland China in the near future, though no concrete plans for market expansion have been disclosed.

(Adapted from Telegraph.co.uk)

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