The internationally renowned footwear company, Skechers USA Inc. (Skechers), has won landmark trademark infringement in China in 2018. Skechers has registered, inter alia, a series of “S” device trademarks under Class 25 in China. Besides trademark registrations, Skechers has enjoyed substantial reputation and popularity globally in respect of its “D’Lites” series shoes, including but not limited to China.
In late 2015, Skechers has discovered two Chinese footwear companies, namely Spieth & Wensky Sporting Goods Co., Ltd. (Spieth & Wensky) and Quanzhou Bohai Shoes Co., Ltd. (Bohai), have subsequently registered certain “S and device” trademarks under Class 25, and, have produced and sold shoes bearing a “S” logo that is closely similar to Skechers’ logo, and, the getup and designs of such shoes are as well closely similar to Skechers’ “D’Lites” series shoes.
To enforce its rights, Skechers started infringement proceedings against the two Chinese footwear companies. In the first instance court proceedings, Spieth & Wensky and Bohai have successfully defended the infringement action in the Quanzhou Intermediate Court for trademark infringement and unfair competition filed by Skechers, by relying on their registered “S and device” trademarks and arguing that the evidence provided by Skechers had failed to prove the alleged rights arising out of the setup and designs of Skechers’ shoes.
Dissatisfied with the judgment of Quanzhou Intermediate Court, Skechers appealed before the Fujian High Court. The appellate court eventually in 2018 overturned the judgment of the lower court and ruled in favor of Skechers holding that Spieth & Wensky and Bohai’s acts had constituted trademark infringement and unfair competition, and ordered the defendants to stop the infringing activities and to pay RMB 3 million (approx. USD400,000) in damages.