Manolo Blahnik wins landmark China trademark dispute after a two-decade fight
No wonder Manolo Blahnik calls it “remarkable” and “outstanding”. It’s taken 22 years, but the UK-based luxury footwear designer has won a landmark trademark dispute in China.
What’s more, the legal victory “sets a strong precedent for others across the industry to enforce their rights against pirate trademarks in China”.
The result means that for the first time since 1999, Manolo Blahnik will be able to use his name and offer his designs to customers throughout China.
“I cannot wait to return to visit the beauty and elegance of China,” Blahnik said on revealing the result.
The British luxury brand brought proceedings to invalidate an unlawful trademark registration incorporating ‘Manolo Blahnik’ which prevented the designer from using his own name throughout China.
The fight to reclaim the trade mark began in 2000 and the successful conclusion of the proceedings “opens the way for the brand to trade across the country for the first time”.
The victory follows a retrial hearing in January, with the Supreme Court issuing a final judgment upholding the invalidation based on Manolo Blahnik’s name rights five months later.
Commenting on the judgment, Blahnik, Founder and Creative Director of his label, said: “We are truly humbled and grateful for the support we have received in China and internationally, both from within the fashion industry and beyond.
“This generous assistance has been a significant contributing factor to this successful result. My sincere thanks to the Supreme People’s Court of China and all involved in this very long case, it’s a remarkable result.”
CEO Kristina Blahnik, the founder’s niece, added: “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.
“We have always admired the rich cultural heritage of China and its people and we look forward with excitement to joining its dynamic future by sharing Manolo’s story, creations and passions. Manolo Blahnik will continue to vigorously protect its trade marks worldwide in the interests of my uncle Manolo, our customers and our business.”
She also told The Financial Times: “It was a huge hole in our existence.“When we got the call . . . genuine tears were shed.” Blahnik added that the company’s plans for the Chinese market were still in the early stages, but she hoped to begin selling directly in China by the second half of next year. “We won’t be racing with a rocket into China, but gently walking,” she added.
Importantly, Georgina McManus, Chief Legal Officer, also said: “This is a landmark decision demonstrating the focus of the Supreme People’s Court of China on substantive justice. This has been a long and challenging journey and this outcome would not have been possible without the dedication, tenacity and support of our teams, our advisers and friends of the brand and the leadership of Jack Randles, Head of Legal.”
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