The Suzhou Intermediate People's Court has ordered five shoe manufacturers and sellers to pay the state US$250,000 for using New Balance's signature slanting "N" logo. The court will issue its final judgment at the end of May, at which time New Balance could get damages, reports the New York Times (27 April, Wee). In previous years, the company has battled legions of counterfeit manufacturers, taken on a rogue supplier which exported its shoes at a deep discount and, most recently, struggled in court to win the use of its Chinese name. Amy Dow, New Balance's senior global corporate communications manager, confirmed the penalty, saying the brand used by all five was called New Boom.
For years, foreign brands have been battling low-quality manufacturers that churn out cheap copies of everything from iPhones to Louis Vuitton bags. But piracy in China has a new twist: manufacturers copy everything about a product, but with a slight modification of the brand name. For New Balance, that meant consumers ran into New Boom, New Barlun, and New Bunren — brands that are protected under China's trademark law. Many Western companies, like Apple and Starbucks, and celebrities, including U.S. President Trump, have been caught up in long legal battles over the right to use their names in China. Trademark lawyers said companies rarely obtain preliminary injunctions in China, making this case an unusual one.
From "Court Ruling in China Is Rare Win Against Piracy"
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