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Alfred Dunhill wins major trademark victory in China

By Huw Hughes

10 Oct 2018

British luxury goods brand Alfred Dunhill has announced that it won a major victory in a long-running trademark battle in China. The brand has been awarded 10 million CNY (1.01 million pounds or 1.47 million US dollars) following the Foshan Intermediate People’s Court’s decision that rival menswear brand Danhuoli was guilty of trademark infringement and unfair competition practice.

The trademark infringement related to Danhuoli’s imitation of the ‘long tail mark’, and black and white colour pallet that Alfred Dunhill uses in its universally recognised logo.

Commenting on the ruling in a statement, Andrew Maag, CEO at Alfred Dunhill, said: “Today’s ruling demonstrates Alfred Dunhill Ltd.’s unequivocal resolve in tackling infringement of our IP rights in China and globally. Our system of IP management and enforcement is second to none. With the support of Rouse and Lusheng Law Firm, we’ve secured a fair and proportionate ruling.”

According to Dunhill’s statement, the judge also deemed the person responsible for the company as being personally responsible for the infringement.

A landmark decision for Chinese IP protection

The British retailer said that Danhuoli had also created a shadow company in Hong Kong, named “Dunhill Group”, that Alfred Dunhill had successfully shut down, but had continued to trade across the Chinese mainland. Danhuoli currently has more than 200 franchise stores spanning across 61 cities in China, claiming an annual turnover of 100 million CNY (10.9 million pounds or 14.7 million US dollars). The 10 million CNY is significantly larger than the average amount awarded in trademark infringement cases in China, making this case particularly important in China's move towards better IP protection regulations.

Global CEO of Rouse, Luke Minford, said: “This win for Alfred Dunhill is just reward for all their hard work protecting their brand in China. The decision should reinforce to other brand owners that China is finally getting serious about protecting foreign brands." China has been focusing more and more on cracking down on IP infringement over the past decade, and this case marks a milestone in its progress as it aims to align its IP rights regime with other developed systems, such as the ones in the US and Europe.

Alfred Dunhill was supported in the case by international IP consultancy Rouse and its Chinese law firm partner, Lusheng Law Firm.

Photo credit: Facebook, Alfred Dunhill