Although the goods designated by the trademarks of the plaintiff are not in the same class as those of the defendant’s trademark, they are considered as similar goods by the court on the ground that they are closely related in respect of function, use, and consuming group

LVMH are the initials of LOUIS VUITTON (luggage and fashion) MOET (champaign) and HENNESSY (cognac), the world leader group of luxury goods. LVMH is also the trademark of the LVMH group.

Newera Enterprises Company Limited, applied on April 10, 2002, for the registration of the trademark “LVMH” in Class 21 for “cooking pot sets; thermally insulated containers for food; isothermic bags; basins [receptacles]; lunch boxes; chopsticks; bowels; bottles; iron spoon”.  

LVMH group filed and opposition with the CTO in 2003 but was rejected. An application for review was filed at the Trademark Review and Adjudication Board (TRAB) in 2008 was also rejected and the registration was approved.

Both administrative authorities considered that the goods respectively designated by the two trademarks were different, and since LVMH had not been recognised as a well known trademark, there was no likelihood of confusion and both trademark could coexist.  

LVMH appealed to Beijing No. 1 Intermediate People's Court (Court).  

On December 20, 2011, the Court decided that the goods of Newera, and those of LVMH are closely related in respect of function, use, consuming group and thus should be decided as similar goods items.  

Based on the above, the Court overruled the decision made by the TRAB.  

Currently, the TRAB has appealed to Beijing Higher People’s Court; LVMH group will participate as a third party. The case is pending.  

Comments

In this case, Beijing No. 1 Intermediate People's Court, instead of deciding that LVMH is a well known trademark and should be protected, “cross-class”, for non similar goods, had preferred to base its decision on the similarity of the goods, thus breaking the restriction set by the Chinese Classification on Similar Goods and Services Items.