American manufacturer New Balance, known particularly well for its trainers in the UK, was recently awarded around £1.2 million in a trade mark infringement case in China, following infringement of its figurative trade mark for the letter 'N'.
According to the BBC, the award is believed to be the largest any foreign company has been awarded in a trade mark case in the Chinse courts. The result for New Balance may be seen as demonstrative of a marked change in policy in respect of China's approach to intellectual property infringement. The financial award is well above the average for Chinese trade mark infringement cases.
The reality of brand protection strategies is that not every action is a triumphant victory, but New Balance's victory in this case will be encouraging for it moving forward.
Taking legal action to protect a brand or to enforce intellectual property rights must be considered on a cost/benefit level. If a competitor is infringing on your intellectual property rights unlawfully and it is affecting your business and you do not take action, the potential risk is your entire business and it is likely to be worth taking action to protect your brand or product. On the other hand, if the actions of another party are more akin to a minor annoyance and do not appear to be impacting your business or sales then, providing that 'annoyance' is monitored effectively, it may be appropriate to put immediate focus on other areas of your business which require financial input.
Intellectual property disputes must be considered on a case-by-case basis but readers should not underestimate the long-term value achieved by protecting and reinforcing a brand or product and the intellectual property rights therein.
If you have any questions on the above, please do not hesitate to contact the team at McDaniel & Co. on 0191 281 4000 or firstname.lastname@example.org: News, Trade Marks