Chinese trademark squatters: Dsquared v Dsquared2 

“The secret of life is honesty and fair dealing. If you can fake that, you’ve got it made” Groucho Marx


We will try to keep this post sweet and easy to understand, being aware that not everyone understands the technicalities of intellectual property law.

To simplify: when you create a brand, the name, logo, distinctive signs etc…are protected (other people can’t use it) once  the brand is registered (this usually involves paying a fee to some form of official body). However this registration is valid in the country it was performed. You cross a border and there is a good chance the local law does not protect your brand…unless you register it there too.

China is particularly permissive in that regard (they have a”first to file” system). Being a “new market” for many of types of goods, and not being part of a trading community like the E.U., many European brands discover once they try to establish themselves over there…that their name had already been registered, and in some cases, shops had been opened selling counterfeit goods under their name, in total respect of the local law.

In some cases a label or a model was registered simply to “hijack” it so that the company would have to pay a “ransom” by buying it out. Hermes (the name), Burberry (the checked pattern) are such examples. The Kardashian products can’t be sold in China as the brand has been registered there. Same for Michael Jordan’s sneakers. Even Apple had to pay $60 million for the Ipad brand!

For Dsquared2, the situation is quite bizzarre: some guy named Zhap Ban Hua registered Dsquared (without the “2”) in 2007 and sold it. After being owned by various entities, a company called Nuohe ended up buying the trademark, and opened stores with all the distinctive features we know from the familiar D2 stores in Europe (wood, lighting…), selling fakes.

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Legitimate D2 store in Shangai
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Unauthorised D2 store in Hangzhou
The mad thing is that when our friends Dean and Dan started operating in China (indirectly, through distributors at first) Nuohe went to court to prohibit them from doing so! An official stockist was fined for selling genuine D2! After a court battle, the fake Dsquared  actually won, which means the genuine Italian company had to stop trading under its name, and even had to publish an apology!

This is obviously not the end of it as “our” D2 is starting to open stores in the People’s republic…Something must have happened but it is unclear what exactly.

Nite that while doing the research for this post we also found some news of the Chinese Trademark Review and Adjudication Board (TRAB) apparently a company called Vsquared also managed to block the registration (unclear which one) of Dsquared. Vsquared!

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