Manolo Blahnik wins the right to use its own name in China after 22-year battle

·2-min read
Manolo Blahnik has been embroiled in a two decades’ long trademark battle over the use of its name in China  (Getty)
Manolo Blahnik has been embroiled in a two decades’ long trademark battle over the use of its name in China (Getty)

Manolo Blahnik has secured the right to use its own name in China after the company won a 22-year-long trademark battle against a local buisnessman.

The luxury retail brand has not operated in the country for over two decades since Fang Yuzhou registered his footwear company under the name “Manolo & Blahnik” in 1999.

In a statement on Tuesday (19 July), the British shoewear giant that was named after its Spanish founder said it had won its case against Yuzhou at the Supreme People’s Court of China, or the country’s highest court.

Adored by celebrities and popularised by the hit TV show Sex and the City, the company’s chief executive officer and niece of Manolo Blahnik, Kristina hailed the “meaningful victory for my uncle, our family and our team” in her statement.

She also thanked the Supreme People’s Court for its “thorough and careful consideration of our long-standing case”.

Now the company is charting its expansion into China, Kristina told The Financial Times, adding that she plans to launch her company in the country next year.

“We won’t be racing with a rocket into China, but gently walking,” she reportedly said.

China is a “first to file” jurisdiction, which meant Fang’s claim to the name as the first person to file the trademark in China in 1999 was protected. Manolo Blahnik had to provide evidence of prior reputation and prior rights to challenge Fang’s registration.

Recent changes to the country’s Intellectual Property laws have led to crackdowns against “bad faith filings” – paving the way for high-profile wins for both global brands and Chinese brands against pirate marks.

Fang has not commented on the outcome of Manolo Blahnik’s legal suit against him at the time of writing.

Additional reporting by Reuters

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