August 9, 2022

Image credit: BBC

Luxury brand Manolo Blahnik wins right to use own name in China

After a protracted legal struggle, the luxury company Manolo Blahnik, based in the UK, has been granted permission to use its name in China.

After a local businessman registered the name as a trademark, the high-end shoemaker stopped doing business in China for more than 20 years.

The trademark “Manolo & Blahnik” was registered by Fang Yuzhou, who looked to be selling footwear under the name.

Celebrity clients and appearances in the enormously successful TV series Sex and the City helped make Manolo Blahnik’s distinctive stilettos renowned.

The brand, which bears the name of its Spanish creator, Manolo Blahnik, announced in a statement on Tuesday that it had won its lawsuit at China’s Supreme People’s Court, the highest court in the nation.

Since 2000, Manolo Blahnik has attempted in vain to register its name in China, one of the biggest consumer markets on earth.

Mr. Blahnik’s niece, Kristina Blahnik, the chief executive of the company and the niece of Mr. Blahnik, hailed the decision as “a significant success for my uncle, our family, and our staff.”

According to Ms. Blahnik, the company intends to launch its shoe sales in China the following year.

We won’t be rushing into China like a rocket, but rather going slowly, she remarked.

Due to China’s “first to file” trademark regulations, Mr. Fang’s 1999 claim to the term was long considered to be stronger than Manolo Blahnik’s, which was established under Chinese law after it.

However, the law has now been changed to take “poor faith” filings into account.

This has led to some well-publicized victories for foreign brands over Chinese companies.

Partner at the legal firm Bird & Bird, Rieko Michishita, stated that businesses may utilise the Manolo Blahnik case to demonstrate “the bad faith of trademark squatters.”

She did note that not all businesses could rely on their brand names, and some might not have the same reputation as Manolo Blahnik.

Only third-party online marketplaces and its regional boutiques in Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan, and South Korea were offering Manolo Blahnik products to Chinese customers.