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November 16, 2011

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Sneakers firm digs in heels over name

SNEAKERS manufacturer New Balance has taken two Chinese companies to court over an alleged trademark infringement.

The US-based sportswear manufacturer claims they used a trademark similar to its "N" design and that one of the companies had a brand name that sounds similar to "New Balance," the Huangpu District People's Court said yesterday.

New Balance said it registered the trademark in China in 1983, with N representing the capital letter of the company's name and a major part of its unique trademark pattern.

It sued the Niubanlun Sportswear Company from Quanzhou, Fujian Province, for using a similar trademark and claimed Niubanlun had produced and sold counterfeit shoes around the country since 2007.

New Balance also sued Shanghai Tibo Business Consulting Company, claiming Tibo was involved in selling counterfeit New Balance shoes produced by Niubanlun in Shanghai's Qingpu District and Pudong New Area.

In court, Niubanlun said its trademark was legally registered.

But New Balance claimed the trademark Niubanlun had registered should not be used on sports shoes.

The two parties also argued over the Chinese brand name in the court.

New Balance claimed Niubanlun used its former Chinese brand name that had been widely known on the Chinese market since 1995.

While New Balance started using a new Chinese brand name in 2003, it still used the former name on packaging in China until 2006.

But Niubanlun said the Chinese brand name was not registered by New Balance and could be used without infringement risk.

Under the suit, New Balance asked the two companies to stop infringing its trademark and the former Chinese brand name of New Balance.

It also asked them to destroy counterfeit products and stop selling them, demanding compensation of 500,000 yuan (US$ 78,721).

The court did not announce a verdict yesterday.


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