Hermes loses patent suit over Chinese name

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 28 February, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 28 February, 2012, 12:00am

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Luxury brand Hermes was dealt another blow in a long-running infringement battle against a Guangdong garment factory which owns the trademark 'Aimashi' - similar to Hermes' brand name on the mainland.

A Beijing court denied Hermes' request to void the trademark of Shunde Dafeng Garment Factory, based in Foshan, supporting earlier decisions by mainland trademark authorities, the Beijing Times reported yesterday.

The French fashion house officially uses the name 'Ai-ma-shi' for the Chinese market, though it never registered the name on the mainland. It applied for a mainland trademark for its French brand name in 1977.

The Beijing Times reported it had learned on Sunday that the Beijing No 1 Intermediate People's Court had upheld the Trademark Appeal Board's 2009 decision, which rejected Hermes' request in 2001 to cancel the contentious trademark.

The court said 'Ai-ma-shi' was not trademarked when Shunde Dafeng registered 'Aimashi' in 1995.

A Hermes China spokeswoman in Shanghai said she was unaware of the case and would need to consult the legal department.

Hermes could file an appeal with the Beijing Higher People's Court.

The Paris-based firm had also failed to secure a cancellation order from the State Trademark Bureau in 1997, where it said the Chinese garment maker was taking advantage of Hermes' popularity.

Professor Liu Chuntian, vice-secretary of the China Intellectual Property Society, said mainland firms that had enjoyed 'free rides' on foreign brands' fame should expect to face litigation.

'They have to face such legal problems one day. You reap what you sow,' Liu said.

'If the Guangdong company was benefiting from people's awareness of the foreign brand 'Ai-ma-shi', then this trademark should be banned.'