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Burberry beats Baneberry in China

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In the latter half of February, the Suzhou Intermediate People’s Court has issued an injunction against a copycat brand in China called Baneberry. The injunction was issued on behalf of Burberry.

The Court found that Shanghai based company, Xinboli Trading had infringed on Burberry’s logo and trade marked patterns. Xinboli had owned two trade marks in China in class 25 for clothing. The trade marks covered its name and a pattern style which resembled Burberry’s tartan pattern. The trade marks were approved in December 2009 and August 2011 even though Burberry’s name and pattern “were in fact well known” prior to the registration.

Baneberry went as far as stating that their products “originated in Jermyn Street, England, and its most symbolic ‘British lattice’ is a classic element in the fashion industry”. Baneberry even used the “same special font” as Burberry.

The Court ruled that Baneberry was unfairly competing with Burberry and that it intentionally caused market confusion. Baneberry increased its sale by going online which in turn reduced Burberry’s market share.

“Burberry’s corresponding market share has been continuously squeezed in large numbers, weakening the distinctiveness and recognisability of its well-known trade marks”.

Baneberry also sold their products in physical Chinese stores in cities including Hangzhou, Changsha, Nanjing, Nanchang, Suzhou, and Shanghai.

Confusion became so problematic from the sale of Baneberry’s products it “triggered a large number of consumer complaints” to Burberry. Unaware consumers were tricked into purchasing what they believed to be genuine products.

The court ordered the Xinboli to stop its actions in order to restore the normal market transactions and protect the rights and interests of consumers.

Burberry was awarded an injunction to prevent Baneberry from committing any further infringements. The case is still ongoing with regards to determining the damage award.

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