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Manolo Blahnik wins long-running trademark dispute in China

By Rachel Douglass


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Image: Manolo Blahnik

Manolo Blahnik has announced that it has won a trademark dispute in China following a 22-year legal battle.

The British luxury brand initially filed a complaint with the China Trade Mark Office (CTMO) back in 2000 after an individual in the region registered a trademark application for ‘Manolo & Blahnik’ covering footwear.

The CTMO dismissed the opposition a year later on the grounds that the evidence submitted was insufficient in proving the brand’s reputation in China prior to the filing of the company’s pirate mark.

The region’s trademark system is based on a ‘first-to-file’ framework, requiring companies to register through the CTMO to obtain trademark protection in China.

The process often results in brands being exploited by those who register and obtain the rights to a name without any intent to use it and then attempt to sell the registration once a brand looks to expand into the country.

Brand to trade in China for first time

After multiple case dismissals with various courts and organisations, Manolo Blahnik eventually brought the case in front of the Supreme People’s Court of China in 2020, which heard the case in a retrial in June 2022, ultimately leading to the final verdict.

The filing has prevented Manolo Blahnik, the Spanish designer who founded the eponymous brand in 1970, from using his own name and selling to customers throughout Mainland China, however, the successful conclusion will now allow the label to trade across the country for the first time.

“We are truly humbled and grateful for the support we have received in China and internationally, both from within the fashion industry and beyond,” said Blahnik, in a release.

The designer continued: “This generous assistance has been a significant contributing factor to this successful result. My sincere thanks to the Supreme People’s Court of China and all involved in this very long case, it’s a remarkable result. I cannot wait to return to visit the beauty and elegance of China.”

Manolo Blahnik