A Chinese individual Zhou sued New Balance for infringing his registered trademark. On April 24, 2015, Guangzhou Intermediate People's Court made a decision in support of the plaintiff and held that New Balance should pay 98 million Yuan (about 16 million US dollars) to Zhou. This is the biggest damages Guangzhou Intermediate People's Court have ever granted by now.
New Balance is a sport brand founded in U.S. in 1906. In 2006, New Balance set up a China subsidiary named "Xin Bai Lun" (???) and used it in the selling and promotion of its products through online stores, official websites, advertisement and so on. In Chinese, "Xin" means "new", "Bai Lun" is a transliteration for the word "balance".
Zhou is the owner of No. 865609 trademark "??" and No. 4100879 trademark "???" on Class 25 of goods like shoes, clothes, hats and socks and so on. Zhou also owns a footwear company in Guangzhou selling men's shoes using "??" and "???" trademarks.
Zhou brought up the lawsuit against New Balance in 2011, claiming it had been maliciously promoting and selling products using his Chinese trademark. He alleged that New Balance's acts had been misleading customers and some of his clients asked if they are selling New Balance's shoes, according to the written judgment of the court.
Incidentally, New Balance filed an opposition against Zhou's registration of "???" but it was rejected by the Trademark Office under the State Administration for Industry and Commerce of China. New Balance did not appeal.
Guangzhou Intermediate People's Court held that New Balance was making profit by using the Chinese trademark "Xin Bai Lun" in marketing and advertisements. Considering that New Balance did not directly use "Xin Bai Lun" on the goods, half of the profits of New Balance's profits since July 2011 should be paid as compensation.
According to New Balance, it will institute an appeal to the higher court.