Guangzhou IP Court recently made a final judgment on a trademark infringement case between LEVI STRAUSS &CO., and Guangzhou Lifeng Textile Company, ruling that Lifeng Company's action of using arcuate design on two pockets at the back of jeans constitutes infringement, and ordering Lifeng company to cease distributing infringing goods and indemnify 30,000 yuan in damages and reasonable costs to LEVI STRAUSS.
LEVI STRAUSS started to use its Arcuate Design on the back pockets since it distributed its very first pair of jeans in 1873. Then the company registered a trademark for this design in 1943. As of now, the company has registered the same trademark in more than 100 countries and regions, and the trademark's Chinese presence, No.2023725‘公式’trademark (herein after referred to as arcuate design) was approved in China on May 14, 2005, certified to be used on Class 25 goods including clothes and jeans.
In 2017, LEVI STRAUSS found arcuate design on two pockets at the back of jeans sold by an online shop named Gulanger Clothing Flagship on the TMALL. There is a horizontal separation line within the diamond- shaped box at the crossing of double arcs, which is almost the same as its Arcuate Design. LEVI STRAUSS then sued Gulanger at Guangzhou Huangpu People's Court on the ground of trademark infringement, and requested the court to order Gulanger to cease infringement, destroy all counterfeiting goods and indemnify50,000 yuan in damages.
Lifeng argued that it had not intended to infringe the registered trademark of LEVI STRAUSS as it did not know that the arcuate design has been registered.
By comparison, the court held that the line-shaped figure used on the back pockets of goods in question is almost visually the same with LEVI STRAUSS's Arcuate Design, and is used in a manner consistent with LEVI STRAUSS. Consequently, Lifeng shall be liable for infringement. The court then ordered Lifeng to cease infringement and indemnify 30,000 yuan in damages.
Disgruntled with the first- instance judgment, Lifeng then went on appeal to Guangzhou IP Court, requesting the court to reject all claims of LEVI STRAUSS.
After hearing, Guangzhou IP Court held that after many years' of use and promotion, the Arcuate Design of LEVI STRAUSS has earned high reputation and recognition from consumers, and an ordinary consumer has the ability to associate Lifeng's double arcs at the back pockets of jeans with LEVI'S jeans. The trial court was correct in determining the two double arc patterns are the same through proper evaluation of facts and appropriate application of law. In this connection, the IP court denied the appeal and upheld the trial court decision.