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May 24, 2016

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Chocolate company wins trademark fight

A German bakery’s Shanghai branch has been forced to change its signs because they infringed on Swiss chocolatier Lindt’s trademark, the Pudong New Area People’s Court said yesterday.

The German company Lind Bakery was earlier ordered by the court to change its signs and pay compensation of 120,000 yuan (US$18,321) to Lindt & Sprüngli AG, but it refused to do so.

However, Lind defended its use of the name, saying that it had a right to because it is a family bakery that has passed from generation to generation since it was founded in Germany in 1905.

However, the court has forced the company to comply by freezing its bank accounts and barring the owner from leaving the country.

Lindt, a Swiss chocolate maker founded in 1845, entered China in the 1990s.

In 2012, Lindt found that a company called Lind had opened several cafes in shopping centers such as Xintiandi and Grand Gateway 66. The company’s outlets had signs displaying script resembling Lindt's trademark.

The script was also on Lind’s promotional materials, cards and products.

Lindt filed a lawsuit against Lind's local branch and its outlets, demanding it pay compensation and take down the signs.

The German bakery registered the script “Lind” as its trademark in Germany, and after it arrived in China in 2005, it used the Chinese name “Lin De,” which is different from Lindt’s Chinese name “Rui Shi Lian.”

It claimed that it also added some other characters, “seit 1905,” on its signs, believing that very few customers would confuse it with “Lindt.” However, the court ruled that Lind used a trademark that was “easy for the general public” to confuse with Lindt’s. It could therefore lead the public to believe “the products are not from two unrelated companies.”

Since Lindt has not opened cafes in China and Lind’s infringement was not intentional, the court set the amount of compensation for the infringement at 120,000 yuan.


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